Gelson’s adds new private label wines for Thanksgiving

Elcino, Calif.-based Gelson’s Markets has bolstered its private label wine offerings this fall, unveiling three new bottles from winemaker Julien Fayard. The California wines were released with Thanksgiving in mind, as Gelson’s will sample the three styles in stores on Nov. 2 alongside traditional Thanksgiving foods prepared inside the Gelson’s Kitchen.

The 27-store grocer partnered with Fayard a year ago on a Rose, which joined a roster of seven wines created exclusively for Gelson’s by another California winemaker, Doug Margerum. The three new wines are a 2017 Coombsville Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, 2018 Oak Knoll District Malbec and 2018 Rose.

Wine is fine with Gelson’s, as a dozen of Gelson’s stores in Southern California run a small wine bar service in-store called Sip ’N Shop, where customers can sip wine and hang out at the store’s wine bar while a store associate handles their shopping. Shoppers simply hand over a shopping list to a bartender at the wine bar, who locates a Gelson’s staff member to do the shopping. The service is one reason the store earned a top honor in customer satisfaction from Consumer Reports, along with earning marks for cleanliness.

But the wine category could be in for a tough time, according to Danny Brager, senior vice president of Nielsen’s U.S. Beverage Alcohol Practice. He spoke at recent wine symposiums in Sacramento and Portland, laying out stiff competition from hard seltzers and ready-to-drink cocktails. At the symposiums he said nearly half of wine drinkers are trying to drink less to be healthier, including two-thirds of millennials. 

Brager said e-commerce sales are a bright spot for wine, scoring nearly 80% of all online alcohol sales during 2018.