Why I Stopped Buying Harlan Estate

Pricing for the last few vintages of Harlan Estate:

2001 – 225
2002 – 245
2003 – 265
2004 – 350????

2001 and 2002 vintages saw perfect scores (100) from Robert Parker Jr. Granted, this is a business, and I understand Bill Harlan is a savvy businessman, but wow, that sure is a turnoff, especially when this vintage didn’t score nearly as well as some previous vintages, with Parker predicting between 93-96.

It also appears that many new to the mailing list were offered the 2004 Estate, which means one of two things:

1. Production is up from 2000 Cases, or
2. Regular customers were also put off by the price increase, and they opted out this year.

Perhaps it’s a combination of both. I do recall a letter from Harlan saying they were ramping up the vineyards planted to the Maiden to eventually become part of the estate bottle, but I’m not sure when that would happen. I did have a large allocation increase over the 2003 vintage, but that could be because I ordered the estate 3 years in a row.

Researching some of the wine boards, apparently, I wasn’t the only one to drop off the list this year, as many long time buyers felt the same way as me.

So there you have it. If production has increased, it is more widely available, and not as precious. If long time customers were turned off by the price increase, it might be wise to rethink the pricing strategy, especially when these wine lovers are loyal and consistent, an ideal customer.

That said, I’ve got a message for Bill Harlan: It’s just fermented grape juice dude.