There is a seemingly endless array of adjectives that wineries use to describe--and okay, to market--themselves and their wares. Words like award-winning, artisanal, small-run, limited-production, hand-crafted and boutique come to mind quickly. They all have a real meaning at their core, but because we see them over and over and over again, that meaning, those definitions get watered down.
I think that just about every winery going calls themselves "award winning" and in most cases, there is some evidence of that. Almost any wine can get some sort of award if it's entered into enough competitions. In actuality, "award-winning wine" doesn't me a damn thing.
But I've been thinking lately about the future of Long Island wine. Some conversations that I've had with those in the industry have me thinking about what makes a winery a "boutique winery."
Looking online, boutique is defined as "A small business offering specialized products and services." That's pretty vague and falls short of defining boutique in the winery sense.
Is it just about being a small winery who only makes X number of cases per year?
That certainly seems like it should be part of it. But a "boutique" winery in California might be bigger than the largest winery in places like Virginia or Long Island. Context has to play a role here.
How can we define "specialized" in the wine world?
I'm sure that most wineries think that their wines are special on some level. And even if we can agree that some unique blend is "specialized" if it isn't any good, is the winery a boutique? Which leads us into...
Quality, or at least perceived quality, has to be considered, right?
If I'm heading into a winery tasting room that deems itself "boutique" should I have a certain expectation for how good the wines are going to be?
Is wine pricing a consideration?
Again, I think it is on some level. A small winery who is making cheap wines doesn't sound like a "boutique" to me.
I guess the last question I would ask is, does "boutique winery" even have a definition. Has it been so overused that it has little meaning anymore?