Who Actually Makes Kirkland Wine?

If you are a wine lover who shops at Costco, you may have noticed the Kirkland Signature wine. Bargain shoppers traditionally reach for their favorite store's brand of wine as well as grocery products to save money. Like Costco itself, Kirkland wine has loyal fans.

Costco added wine to the Kirkland Signature family in 2003 (via The Press Democrat), around the same time as when Trader Joe's launched Charles Shaw or "Two-Buck Chuck," per Insider. The two set a trend for private-label wines that not everyone enjoys. Wine Folly outlined concerns wine lovers have about private-label wines, like how some brands lack transparency about the wine's origins.

The origins are an indicator of quality since winemaking requires significant investment in developing deep knowledge, specialized equipment, and acquiring grapes grown in the right way. Not only that, but wineries spend a lot on marketing to get people to buy their wine. Advertising and marketing can sometimes account for as much as 80% of the bottle's price (per Marketplace). Partnering with a large grocery chain reduces those marketing costs, so wineries often can afford to sell a batch of wine to Kirkland Wine at a lower price than in their own tasting rooms.

Some private-label brands hide the identity of their partner winemakers, but not Costco. "We often create brand awareness for wineries, as we have more than 75 million members, and many note they saw 'Brand X' at Costco," Annette Alvarez-Peters told The Press Democrat. Alvarez-Peters previously managed Costco's wine buyers.

Knowing your Kirkland wine partners

Wine enthusiasts often like to know the story behind their wine and the people who made it. If you want to learn who made your favorite Kirkland Signature wine, Reverse Wine Snob has a couple of tips. First, look at the label because sometimes it clearly credits the winemaker. If not, look just above the standard government warning for the phrase "bottled by" for a hint.

For example, in an article about Kirkland Signature Columbia Valley Cabernet, Reverse Wine Snob noted the wine was made by winemaker Brandon Rice for Wahluke Wine Company in Washington State. According to its website, Wahluke Wine Company belongs to the award-winning vineyard Milbrandt Vineyards which won the 2019 Wine Press award for "Washington Winery of the Year" (per Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business.) People who enjoy Washington reds may enjoy knowing which winemakers they support with their purchase.

This isn't the only established winery Kirkland Signature partners with. Moneywise reported that Kirkland Signature has a history of partnering with some well-known wineries, such as Francis Ford Coppola's winery and Grove Street Winery. In addition, some of the winemakers credited are affiliated with well-regarded wineries from all over the world, including the U.S., New Zealand, and Europe. 

Now that you know more about who makes Kirkland wine, you may also want to learn more about the brewers behind its beer.