And why does it cost more than the wine at Trader Joe’s?
Resistance Wine costs more than big-box store wine because it is not industrially produced. That is, we do not take the shortcuts required to make enough wine to fill grocery store shelves across the country. We think this results in wine that tastes better, and we sure feel better about selling it.
What shortcuts, you ask?
Our wines come from fruit that is farmed and harvested by hand in small Southern Oregon vineyards. The vineyard owner/managers from whom we buy our fruit walk their vineyards regularly from April through October, doing much of the work by hand. They are attuned to the signals of their vineyards and use their observations to tweak irrigation schedules, adjust fertilization programs, and spot disease before it spreads.
Our winemaker walks these vineyards too, testing samples as harvest approaches and working with the vineyard owners to adjust crop yield, light exposure, and water to get the fruit exactly how we want it.
Contrast that with the massive vineyards that you see along Route 99 in Central California that are pruned, suckered, thinned, tucked, and harvested by machine. For them, it’s kind of tough to know what that fruit will be like until it comes into the winery at harvest, or to make adjustments for parts of the vineyard that are sunnier, or wetter, or more prone to mildew. Their winemakers thus don’t have the same nuanced understanding of their fruit—or the wine that it will produce.
Our red wine grapes are sorted by hand, first as clusters and then as individual berries. We do this to remove anything that we don’t want in our wine—moldy berries, green stems, water berries, underripe berries, and so on. We also don’t crush our berries. They go into the fermenter whole (for the most part). This slows fermentation and enables a longer skin contact period, while also keeping the grape seeds intact to avoid extracting bitter seed tannins.
But with large-scale winemaking? That fruit is dumped by the gondola into massive crusher destemmers and pumped directly into fermentation vessels with no sorting or quality control process. Flaws in the fruit are addressed later with additives and other forms of manipulation.
We ferment our red wine grapes in individual 1- or 2-ton fermenters and mature the wine in 60-gallon oak barrels.
On the other hand, large-scale red wine is generally fermented and aged in large tanks. It may be hooked up to a micro-oxygenation machine to simulate barrel aging, and may have oak staves, chips, or powder added to simulate the flavor imparted by barrels. All of those things are cheaper and easier than making wine in barrels, but the wine just doesn’t come out the same.
We accept that our wine is going to taste a little different each year due to weather variations, vine age, changes to our vineyard sources, differing barrel selections, and evolution of our winemaking practices in general. (We promise it will always be awesome—just different shades of awesome.)
If we were producing wine for grocery store shelves, we would need to make sure that it tasted about the same year-to-year so that our customers would always get what they expected, à la a visit to McDonalds. We would take fruit that varied from year to year and manipulate it so that the sugar, acid, tannin, phenolic compounds, and other components matched up every year.
No thanks. We prefer celebrating the subtle differences of each new vintage. We appreciate how the land, the weather, and the experience of the winemaker are reflected in every bottle. You just can’t get that at Trader Joe’s prices.
Hey, if you like reading about wine, you’ll definitely enjoy drinking it. Check out the Resistance Wine Company’s best bottles!