WSJ: “Cameron Hughes buys top wineries’ excess and resells it for bargain prices”
If you’ve ever bought wine at Costco, you probably know Cameron Hughes. the budget wine label whose cut-rate bottles are often among the least expensive wines in the store. They’re sold with numbers as names–Lot 164 Rutherford Cabernet or Lot 135 Syrah, for example.
Cameron Hughes owes his company’s success to the world-wide glut of wine, which has enabled him and his company to gobble up 250, 000 gallons of wine–much of it from first-rate producers who sell the same wine under their own fancy labels for several times more–at fire-sale prices. Hughes then repackages the wine under his generic Lot system and sells it for a fraction of what the wine would cost with a different label.
Wine writer Lettie Teague writes in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal about Cameron Hughes, both the company and the person, explaining that Hughes is a wine broker who was at the right place at the right time with a timely idea–and cash. Hughes buys excess inventory from cash-strapped winemakers “who had bigger crops than they could sell, and Hughes was there with cash to buy their wines.”
“Mr. Hughes takes the $100 California Cabernets that have gone begging for buyers and sells the very same wines under his own labels for $25 a bottle and less. He packages them in generic-looking bottles with names like Lot 164 Rutherford Cabernet and Lot 135 Syrah and sells them on his website and to retailers like Sam’s Club and Costco in 38 states.”
I’ve tasted or purchased dozens of Cameron Hughes wines; some, like the Lot 164 Rutherford Cabernet, were tremendous values. Others weren’t as spectacular. But at prices usually below $15 a bottle, they’re always worth a try.
And here’s another story worth reading: How Plastic Popped the Cork Monopoly, in the same issue.
(Thanks to EscapeHatch columnist Advanced Sommelier Jason Hisaw for alerting me to the link.)