Now the Supply Chain is Messing With Our Daily Vino

Winemakers are the latest to fall victim to the nation’s supply chain troubles. Shortages of glass bottles and other essentials have left them with a bad taste in their mouths — literally.
Last updated Oct 21, 2021 | By Rebecca McCracken | Edited By Becca Borawski Jenkins
Glass of red wine and corks on dark background

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Whether you acquire your favorite vintage by buying it in bulk at Costco or socking away your extra cash, you might have noticed the cost of wine has risen exponentially — 45% more per glass since 2019 — thanks to pandemic-driven supply chain issues. The latest blow to hit winemakers is a glass bottle shortage. This shortage is so dire that barrels of wine are sitting far longer than they should, completely ruining the taste.

In an Insider interview, Phil Long, owner of Longevity Wines in Livermore, California, said that when his wine spends more time than it should in its wooden barrels, it starts to taste “like a sawmill.”

Long’s been so desperate that he bought glass bottles from local vineyards with excess stock. But bottles aren’t the only thing that winemakers are running out of. Bags, labels, and corks — all must-haves for wineries — are in short supply. They all sit, out of reach, in cargo containers piled up in America’s ports or on boats forced to wait at sea.

It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation. China, which many American factories rely on for Chinese-made parts, is short on shipping containers. Therefore, many American factories have had to limit their production. Limited production means a shortage of goods and a rise in prices.

Then, there’s the issue of distributing the containers throughout the U.S. When a container arrives at a port, it’s removed from the ship and driven by truck to an intermodal hub. There, the cargo is sorted and placed on a truck or train, depending on its final destination.

However, according to The New York Times, a shortage of truck drivers in the U.S. means cargo containers have been stacked rows and rows deep, clogging ports. And cargo distribution via train isn’t much faster, due to similar issues with labor shortages and container backlogs at train terminals.

“Cargo volumes have soared as consumer demand for goods remains high and this is challenging resources along the West Coast,” BNSF Railway spokeswoman Amy Casas told Trains.com earlier in July.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like things will get better any time soon. It might be because they’re pursuing better jobs or recovering from pandemic-related burnout, but either way 4.3 million Americans quit their job in August — a massive blow to the economy. Moreover, experts worry this lack of available workers will cause delays to worsen into 2022, resulting in even higher prices for goods, including wine.

With the holidays approaching and the cost of wine and other goods continuing to rise, It may make sense to give your budget a little extra breathing room by finding ways to make extra money or taking on a side hustle.

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