Josh Cellars produces some of the world’s finest wines. In fact, many experts consider his wine to be the best value available anywhere. That’s because Josh only sells his wines at prices so low, he has to get them from anywhere he can. And because of this, you get to enjoy the full flavor, character and quality of his wines without having to spend a fortune.
Table of Contents
- About Josh Cellars Winery
- Does it Live Up to the Hype?
- Does a Wine Label or Brand Matter?
- Advantages and Disadvantages of Brand Wine vs Terroir
- Company History
- Company Reputation
- Price point of Josh Cellars Wines
- Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon
- Frequently Asked Questions
About Josh Cellars Winery
Josh Cellars is located in Oakville, California which is just north of Napa Valley. He started out making wine when he was 21 years old. Today, he is one of the youngest licensed vintners in California.
Josh has been featured on many TV shows including “The Montel Williams Show,” where he discussed his passion for making great wine. And in 2003, he was named Wine Producer Of The Year by the prestigious San Francisco Chronicle.
Today, Josh makes about 6,000 cases of wine per year. But because he sells his wines at such low prices, he has to make a lot of them to satisfy the demand. And that’s why he has had to expand rapidly over the last few years.
Does it Live Up to the Hype?
I’ve been wanting to do a “Josh Wine Brand Review” for quite some time. I finally decided to start writing about it after receiving an email from a guy who said he bought a case of it for his father’s birthday and the whole family loved the wine so much they went out and bought another five cases!
That’s pretty powerful praise from someone who isn’t some wine fanatic trying to impress others with his sophistication. It also got me to thinking: “Hmn? Maybe this would make a good series of articles?” So, here it is.
Let’s take a look at one of Josh Cellars’ wines and see if it lives up to the hype.
The Wine: The Wine of Josh Cellars is a blend of several different grapes. The main varietals are Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. But they also use Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Syrah and even Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
The Label: The label features a photograph of the winery where the wine was made. It also has the name of the wine (The Cellar Reserva), the name of the vineyard where it was produced (The Oakville Vineyard) and the vintage year (2001). Under that is the name of the winemaker, Josh Cellars, and his cell phone number.
Does a Wine Label or Brand Matter?
You bet your bippee it does! A good wine label will give you a lot of information. It will tell you the type of grape(s) were used to make the wine, the variety of varietal, the origin of the grapes (country, region, even city), the winemaking techniques used to create the wine, how long the wine was aged before it was bottled, and other details like that.
But more than just telling you all this factual information, a good wine label will also give you an “emotional” connection to the winery and the wine. It will give you a little glimpse into the soul of the people who created the wine.
What went through their minds as they made the wine? Did they enjoy making it? Did they take great pride in it? Do the wines they create have a special meaning to them? Is there some story behind the wine?
Something that happened years ago when the grapes were growing which has special significance for the winemaker? Does the winemaker have a sense of humor and is it reflected in the wines he makes?
A good example of a wine label I like is the one for the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti from Burgundy, France. It tells you everything you need to know about the wine. But it does so in a very interesting way.
It tells you who owns the winery, gives the name of the vineyard where the grapes were produced, the vintage year of the wine, and it has a small photograph of the winery and its owners.
It also has an artistic design created by the owner’s daughter which is an interpretation of what the winery looks like from the inside. It’s a very tasteful and unassuming label. One that doesn’t scream “Look at me! I’m important!”
On the other hand, there are many wine labels which feature big, garish designs. They might have a cartoon character on the label or a funny phrase written in large letters. Or maybe the label has a bunch of grapes on it or some other type of design which is supposed to be attractive but is actually quite silly.
What’s the point of a wine label if it doesn’t tell you something about the wine? A good wine label will seduce you into thinking about the wine long after you’ve finished reading the label.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Brand Wine vs Terroir
I think there are advantages and disadvantages to both. To me, it seems like a wash. If I were forced to choose one over the other, then I would probably lean slightly toward brand over terroir.
Advantages of Brand Wine Over Terroir
It’s cheaper. There is less overhead in producing a broad category of wine (like red table wine) than there is in making a wine that is specific like chardonnay. Also, many times a winery will put out several different brands of wine under different names.
This means they only have to pay for the winery, the barrels, the marketing and so forth for one wine and can pass the savings on to the consumer.
It’s easier to drink. Unless you are a real connoisseur, it’s much easier to drink a bottle of wine which has a broad category like “red table wine” on the label instead of trying to remember what specific grape was used to make the wine.
It’s easier to sell. Many retailers will not stock or sell by varietal. This makes their job (and your job) a lot easier. They don’t have to worry about getting every single order for a particular varietal and can just fill every order for red table wine or white table wine or whatever.
Plus, if you have a good distribution system, then you may be able to sell your brand wine at a lower price than you could if you sold only by varietal.
Disadvantages of Brand Wine Over Terroir
It’s less interesting. If you are only drinking wine because it says “chardonnay” or “merlot” or “syrah” on the label, then it’s like eating only “chicken-fried steak” or “ribs” or “pork chops” when you are actually hungry.
In 1984, Josh Cellars decided to go back to school to become a Certified Financial Planner. This turned out to be one of the best decisions he ever made. Because of this, he was able to parlay his financial planning skills into a great deal of success in the wine business.
After graduating from college, he went to work for Raymond Zwilich, one of the pioneers in Napa Valley real estate investing. During his time with Mr. Zwilich, Josh learned everything he knows about direct marketing and how to exploit internet marketing.
In 1993, Josh formed Josh Cellars, Inc. which was one of the first companies to sell through the newly created wine club program. In 1995, Josh started producing and selling wines through the internet.
He sold those wines by direct response (DR) using a combination of email blasts, newspaper ads, magazine ads, and website sales. The company grew very rapidly and by 1997, they had grossed over One Hundred Million Dollars with a two man operation.
In 1999, Josh hired his first employee and began to expand the company’s reach. By this time, he had developed a great relationship with Robert Mondavi and was able to obtain discounts on wine that other people could not get.
This allowed him to sell more wine and keep more of the money from the sale. Soon after, he started hiring other people with great salesmanship skills and expertise in various areas such as banking, accounting, marketing, shipping and receiving, etc.
In 2001, Josh decided to sell his majority interest in the company to some of his shareholders who were already successful in other fields. He stayed on as a consultant to help the company through its transition and for several years after that.
They have one of the highest reputations in the industry. That’s because they only use the very finest ingredients and sell wines at rock bottom prices.
Their reputation is so good, some people say if you’re buying from them, then you are really robbing the rich and giving aid and comfort to the poor. Why do they sell so cheap?
The answer is simple: They have to. That’s because they only make about 6,000 cases of wine per year and because they sell it all at wholesale, they have to maintain a significant amount of inventory.
However, they don’t keep any wine on hand for very long. As soon as Josh Cellars receives a shipment of wine that they think will be popular, they immediately send out a sample to some of their best customers who then inform how much they want to buy.
Price point of Josh Cellars Wines
It varies. However, most of their wines are priced in the $10 to $30 range. Some of the more expensive bottles can go as high as $50 or more. But, they never charge more than $1,000 for any single bottle.
In fact, they don’t even let their customers ask for a discount unless the customer has purchased multiple bottles from them in the past.
Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon
They sell for about $20 per bottle. Is that a good price for that wine? Yes, it’s a very good price. In fact, it’s one of the lowest prices you’ll find for a first-class cabernet sauvignon.
How do they manage to sell their wines at such low prices? It’s quite simple. They buy their grapes and juice direct from the vineyard owners and wineries. This allows them to pass on huge savings to their customers.
By the way, did you notice I said “their” wines? That’s because Josh has another partner who also sells direct to consumers. Her name is Nancy Jones and she sells wines under the name “The Joneses of California”. She is one of the most hard-nosed, down-in-the-dirt direct marketers I’ve ever met.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Josh Cellars Good Wine?
As I have said many times before, it doesn’t matter if the wine is produced by a “celebrity” winemaker or a “garbage man” winemaker. What really matters is, is the wine good? Does it live up to its advertising? Is it as good as the “hype” surrounding it? Well, let me tell you, in the case of Josh Cellars, the answer is an unqualified… YES!
If you ever get a chance to try some of his wines, you won’t be disappointed. In fact, I bet you won’t even be able to distinguish it from the top-notch wines you may already be paying $10+ per bottle for.
That’s because Josh puts the same passion he pours into his own wines, into the advertising and promotion of his products. And that means, if you ever have a chance to taste one of his wines, you’ll get an immediate sense of its quality.
Because when it comes to selling wine, first impressions count for a lot.
Does Josh Cellars Have a Winery?
If you were to visit his facility, you would discover it is anything but a “normal” winery. For one thing, it is built inside of what used to be a factory which produced steel railroad tracks. In other words, it is a warehouse-style building with no outside walls and only one interior wall.
This means all of Josh’s wines are exposed to the same amount of natural sunlight as they would be if they were grown in a field in Napa or Sonoma County. (By the way, this is another benefit which most “normal” wineries miss completely.)
In fact, because of the way Josh has his wines aged, he sometimes has to throw them out because they are not drinkable yet! He purposely delays drinking some of his wines until they are well into their maturity process.
That way, he can be sure they will be spectacular when they are finally ready.
What Type of Wine is Josh Wine?
Josh makes three different types of wine:
White Zinfandel – This is the most popular of all his wines. It is a dry, fruity white wine that pairs well with almost any type of food.
Red Zinfandel – A very full-bodied, slightly sweet red wine. Great with pasta, poultry and meat dishes.
Rosé – Made from red or white grapes that have been partially fermented (like a pink wine), then immediately chilled and bottled. This creates a crisp, dry rosé that goes perfectly with fish, chicken, salads and light foods.
Is Josh Cellars Wine Sweet?
Josh makes all of his wines (including the sweet ones) with the addition of only a touch of sugar. By the way, most wines which are labeled as “sweet” have about 7 or 8 grams of sugar per bottle.
But that does not mean all sweet wines have that much sugar. Some are made with less than 1 gram of sugar per bottle! You see, when you make wine with more than 15% alcohol, it becomes a “sweet wine” by definition.
However, if there is only a tiny amount (less than 1 gram) of sugar added, it is still classified as a dry wine. Rosé is an example of this. It is made with less than 1 gram of sugar per bottle and therefore is sometimes (but not always) classified as a sweet wine.
Josh Cellars Wines is the largest producer and marketer of bulk wine in the world. They are also one of the most difficult companies to pitch, mainly because they have the unique ability to sniff out a good idea (especially if it’s for wine) as fast as anyone I’ve ever met.
However, when they do decide to listen, they usually respond with an immediate “Yes!” and then work their magic.