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  • Guest Blog: Mama Harris's Moscato Berry Sangria!

    We're having a hot week, and the perfect thing to chill out (if you're a grown-up) is sangria out on your patio, deck, or porch.  One of our favorite bloggers, Mama Harris, made Moscato Berry Sangria with a bottle of Moscato she got at Grocery Outlet:


    Moscato Berry Sangria


    "But what I did get in the photos was this sangria that my friends and I enjoyed. It was deeee-lish, and strong too! Perfect for the occasion, if I do say so myself. I used the bottle of Moscato that I purchased from Grocery Outlet along with another bottle I had already of Sauvignon Blanc. Paired with a bunch of berries, a lemon from our tree and a bit of Triple Sec, it was the perfect pairing for our party."

    To get the recipe for this delicious sangria, view here post here: Mama Harris's Moscato Berry Sangria

    And to view all the items she got for her party, check out her Grocery Outlet haul post, here.

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  • Cheers to Holiday Wine Savings!

    Whether it's a casual gathering with friends or the traditional family Christmas meal, holiday celebrations and wine go together like Santa and cookies.  We hoped you saved a lot on our 20% off Wine Sale this weekend, but the good news is that it's still the perfect time to stock up and say “Cheers!” to your savings on great wines. And since it can be overwhelming to buy wines sure to please everyone at the party, we wanted to share these simple tips.

    Think Variety. Holiday parties usually involve a large variety of foods, including appetizers and desserts. So don't limit the wine selection to the main course. Provide a variety of wine selections including a sparkling wine, a white wine and a red wine.

    Bubbles or Bust. Sparkling wine, or Champagne, makes every holiday activity feel more festive. And it will work for brunch, lunch and dinner parties. Don't be afraid to add a little dash of color to the bubbles with a splash of cranberry juice and a few fresh cranberries.


    Holiday Wine

    Go Corkless. It's become more common to find great wines with screw caps instead of corks. So you can ditch the hassle of a corkscrew – especially handy at a large party.

    Bulk Buy. If you find a wine you know you love, go ahead and buy in bulk. And if you're not hosting the holiday parties this year, it's the perfect hostess gift to bring along. Just don't show up empty handed!

    Go ahead and raise your glasses, then toast to your favorite people!

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  • 20% off Wine Sale!

    For 5 days only, all wine at Grocery Outlet is 20% off!  Our prices are already 40-70% off regular store retails, so you can save an additional 20% during the sale, Wednesday November 6th - Sunday, November 10th!

    Also, save with us when you buy your Thanksgiving turkey at Grocery Outlet. Spend a minimum of $30, and get a 14-16 lb frozen turkey for just $9.99!


    20% off All Wine

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  • Our Top Picks for the 2012 Wine Sale!

    Hi, I’m Carol, Assistant Wine Buyer for Grocery Outlet.  Are you excited about this year’s November Wine Sale? I know I am! Starting this Wednesday, November 7th, it runs for 5 days until Sunday, November 11th.  During the sale, all stores will have a 20% discount off on every bottle! With this discount added to Grocery Outlet’s everyday low prices, you can save from 40-70% off what you’d pay at a conventional store.

    Our team has been working hard to stock up your local stores with great wines to give you the best variety and quality.  Here are my two top favorite recommendations:

    Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Extra Dry Sparkling ($5.99 retail, sells elsewhere at $11.99)—I helped host a bridal shower for my dear friend who was getting married two weeks ago. I decided to pick up a bottle of Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Extra Dry Sparkling Wine at my local Grocery Outlet to make Bellinis & Mimosas. Boy, was it a hit! The wine had a perfect hint of sweetness, with aromas of crisp orchard fruit and honeysuckle.

    You don’t have to make Bellinis or Mimoas with Woodbridge like I did, because it also tastes great alone and pairs well with Asian appetizers, creamy cheeses, spicy dishes like Thai curry, or custard desserts such as panna cotta with fresh berries. Pop open a bottle to enhance everyday events, or whenever a little celebrating is in order.

    Mondavi Woodbridge

    Let’s step away from the sparkling and go into the red wine category.  If you are a fan of Cabernets then I’ve got the perfect wine for you.

    Mazzocco Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon ($12.99 CA, $13.99 all other states; sells elsewhere for $29.99)—Mazzocco Sonoma winery is very well known and is located in Healdsburg, CA (the heart of Sonoma County wine country). They are so renowned that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton invited them to the Department of State to join the Diplomatic Culinary Partnership.  Mazzocco Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon also received the Gold Medal at the 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

    Aromas of cassis, cacao and forest floor lead to a plush mid-palate impression having dark chocolate, allspice and black licorice notes.  It’s the quality you'd expect from a Cabernet. For a Gold Medal winner, a $12.99 retail price when it drinks like a $25-50 bottle is a very impressive wine.


    Be sure to take advantage of our wine selection during the wine sale!  For 5 days only, all of your favorite wines could be yours at 20% off!  Or you might take the chance to try something new.  At these prices, you can afford to!

    Cheers from Grocery Outlet!

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  • Sam the Cooking Guy and Grocery Outlet

    We like to partner with local chefs and experts to illustrate how you can use the bargains you find at Grocery Outlet Bargain Market in your everyday life.  We've been honored to work with Sam the Cooking Guy, whose take on easy, affordable cuisine is one we greatly admire.

    A little about Sam
    Sam Zien, known as Sam the Cooking Guy, is a Canadian-born television cook (not a classically trained chef) and author, based in San Diego, California. His show, Sam the Cooking Guy, started on local television stations before moving to a Fox affiliate and thence to Discovery Health. He has won multiple Emmy awards, including one for an episode on Jewish cuisine. Zien started his television career doing travel shows, but reconsidered after the World Trade Center attack. in the decade following Zien has taken his television cooking show on the road, producing multiple shows across the world in places like Hong Kong, Fiji, New Zealand and Vancouver. (from Wikipedia.  For more about Sam, check out his bio here.)

    Sam the Cooking Guy
    Source: Sam the Cooking Guy

    Grocery Outlet
    Sam agreed to partner with us in launching our East Village San Diego location.  He cooked for a couple of events we hosted at that store, and in the process, created these five videos for us about the amazing values he found at Grocery Outlet, checking out the deals by scanning them on his phone.  He even made some spicy steak and corn soft tacos.  Check out our videos below for more.

    Sam the Cooking Guy - Introduction

    Sam the Cooking Guy - Prices

    Sam the Cooking Guy - NOSH (Natural, Organic, Specialty, Healthy)

    Sam the Cooking Guy - Wine & Beer

    Sam the Cooking Guy - Sam Cooks Spicy Steak and Corn Soft Tacos

    Thank you Sam, for showing us you can make a healthy and delicious dinner easily and inexpensively, by shopping and saving at Grocery Outlet!

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  • $4-A-Day Challenge: Mark

    Hi, I’m Mark, the Marketing Director for Grocery Outlet at our home office in Berkeley, CA.   I’m going to share with you my experience this week in eating on only $4 a day, which is going to be interesting since I can occasionally blow $20 on just one lunch!  My wife told me I was on my own this week, so I’m having a “bachelor” menu. Mark and Lois

    Eating in Berkeley isn’t cheap, unless you shop at Grocery Outlet.  I’ll be doing all my shopping there, so I’ll be paying about half price for my food which will put me at a big advantage versus people who shop at regular grocery stores.

    So here’s my story, hope you enjoy it, I’m sure I’m going to learn a few things!

    I had planned it all out, I would do my shopping on Sunday and have everything ready to fix during the week. Then family came in from out of town and we had to travel on Sunday and all of a sudden it was Monday morning and I hadn’t shopped. Now what do I do? I looked at my “rough” meal plan and went downstairs to our store to strategize. I had planned eggs ($1.49/dz) and hash browns (only $2.49 for ten Lindens hash brown patties!) for a couple of breakfasts, then I saw some Jimmy Dean Maple Sausage sandwiches for only $5.99 for a 20ct box (only 30 cents a serving!). Sounds good! However, as I picked up the box and looked at the ingredients, it struck me that I was making some less than healthy choices. Hmmmm….

    Nimble Bar
    So I started my Monday with oatmeal and frozen blueberries mixed together which was very tasty. Lunch was two yogurts (3 for $1 at GO) and a “Nimble” peanut butter nutrition bar. Ok, Nimble is supposed to be for women, but the price was right ($ .33/bar) and it has 5g of fiber, 10g of protein plus Calcium, Iron, Vitamins C, D, E & B6, Lutein and Beta-Carotene! Dinner was my one vice with a salad with two pieces of Red Baron 4 meat pizza (only $ .50 a slice!). I normally drink water for most meals and the savings will help me save up for some wine with dinner later in the week!
    Final tally for Monday; $3.35
    $16.65 left for the week

    I scrambled three eggs and added some fresh fruit for a nice breakfast that only penciled out to $.62. I started to adjust my plan for the week and observed that healthier choices (salad, fruit, etc,) were actually bringing my costs down! Lunch was a nice green salad with a Nimble bar. You can get a lot of salads out of a head of lettuce! Newman's Own In fact I got a little “heady” and decided I could have a glass of wine for dinner the last four nights with a $3.99 bottle of Newman’s Own Merlot, a great wine that sells for up to $9 elsewhere. With Newman’s Own, I’m also benefiting the charities that they donate their proceeds to so it’s a “win-win”. A 750ml bottle is 25.4oz which translates to four 6oz glasses. Cheers!
    I’ve got this figured out!
    Final tally for Tuesday ; $3.45
    $13.20 left for the week

    Felt a little hungry this morning so I grabbed for breakfast one of my yogurts I was originally going to have for lunch. Breakfast
    When I got to lunch, I found to my dismay that my lettuce was going bad! Rats! I had pre-washed it and put it in an airtight ziplock, but I hadn’t dried it properly and didn’t put it in the “crisper” drawer in the fridge (yes honey, I know!). So, I had some slightly rusty salad for lunch along with a Nimble bar and some “humble pie” (cost: “priceless”). Then for dinner, with my 2 slices of pizza I had to substitute fruit for the salad (in addition to the grapes from the wine of course!
    Ew!  Lettuce gone bad! With my lettuce gone, I need to start re-strategizing the rest of the week now.
    Final tally for Wednesday; $4.11
    $9.09 left for the week

    Take a look at a very nutritious breakfast bowl! This is oatmeal ($ .28), with frozen blueberries ($.83) , plus a light showering of an anti-oxidant trail mix ($ .25). I usually get off to a good start with breakfast, then it’s all downhill the rest of the day! Lunch was yogurt ($ .66) and a Nimble bar ($ .33).
    My wife and I have our bocce ball league tonight and I’m meeting her there, so I’ll have to grab something before I leave. A two pack of mini burritos ($ .79, $1.49 elsewhere) looked good (remember what I said above about going downhill the rest of the day?) so I had those along with a banana ($ .20) for some extra potassium.
    Mojo bar
    While looking through our NOSH (Natural-Organic Specialty-Healthy) section I noticed Clif Mojo bars for only $ .50! With all the “Nimble” bars I’ve had this week I figured I could use a little extra “Mojo”!
    Final tally for Thursday: $3.84
    $5.25 left for Friday!


    When I ventured into Melissa Porter’s (VP of Marketing and my boss!) office I caught her eating a full size salad bowl! We sell these pre-packaged salad bowls (complete with proteins, cheese, veggies, etc., even a fork!) for only $2.99, but that still would bust a $4-A-Day budget. I think there’s something fishy going on here!

    Melissa eating salad!

    I’m in the home stretch and have a whopping $5.25 left for today! My only question left was, “what would Lois Prices do?”. I went to my old standby, 3 scrambled eggs with fruit for breakfast ($ .62). Lunch was yogurt, a Nimble bar and a banana ($1.20). So, $3.43 left for dinner… let’s see, what would I like?Glass of Wine
    Friday is always pizza night at our house, so I went for 2 slices of pizza ($1), some salad (ok, I had to borrow it!) for $.25 which left me with $2.18, I guess that means I can have an extra glass of wine! Cheers!

    Total tally: $19.82
    Not bad!

    Looking back on the week, I was surprised at how cheaply you can eat with careful planning, preparing and of course, shopping at Grocery Outlet for the best prices! I do have a new found respect for those who face a tight food budget every day as it does require considerable thought up front as well as planning and preparation for a family. I look forward to using the things I’ve learned this week to eat for less money as well as eat healthier (and store my lettuce properly!).

    What about you? What have you learned on your $4-A-Day Challenge? Leave us a comment on Facebook and let us know!

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  • Cooking with Wine

    With our wine sale earlier this month, you probably have a bunch of bottles stocked up.  Inevitably, there’s half a bottle lying around after dinner that you cork back up and then forget about, and before you realize it, it’s turned to vinegar.  Such a waste!

    The great news is that there’s a simple way to use up leftover wine—cooking! You can up the Wow Factor of any dish by adding a little bit of wine to the recipe, which saves you money and cuts down on waste.

    Cooking with Wine

    Here are some ideas on how to add wine to your cooking:
    • Add wine to your marinade.  The acid in the marinade will help the meat absorb the flavor of the wine.
    • Replace some of the water, vinegar, broth, or fruit juice in a recipe with wine for a richer, fuller flavor.
    • Use a little bit to add flavor to soups, stews, gravy, and hearty dishes.
    • Make sangria!  Add chopped fruit and a little sugar and you have the perfect summer beverage.
    • Mix with oil and spices to baste turkey, roasts, or braise vegetables.
    • Make a pan sauce using the juices from the meat, some wine, and some spices.  Perfect for sautéed or browned meats.
    • Create a classic French dish like Coq au Vin.  Julia Child’s classic recipe is worth a try: Coq au Vin Recipe

    The rule of thumb is to pair red wine with heartier fare, and white wine with lighter dishes.  But we say experiment!  Your palate is what’s most important.  Try a bunch of things and find out what works best for you.  Always consult the recipe if you’re cooking with wine—the author may have had a specific flavor profile in mind and has done the legwork ahead of time.

    What do you like to drink with different foods?  

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  • Bargain TV: Wine Sale Reviews

    Wow! 20% off every bottle in the store! It only happens twice a year and the time is now. Watch this week's Bargain TV as Christopher reviews just 3 of the hundreds of different wines available at our Big Wine Event.

    So, thoughts on Chris's beard? Or your favorite wine? Leave a comment and let us know!

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  • Semi-Annual Wine Sale!

    Starting tomorrow, March 7th, wine is 20% off at Grocery Outlet!  For 5 days only, from March 7th-11th, all wine company-wide is 20% off.  With this discount added to Grocery Outlet’s everyday low prices, you can save from 40-70% off what you’d pay conventionally.  Come in and stock up!


    20% off Wine Sale

    And here are some tasting notes on some great wines we currently have in stock to give you some ideas on what to get during the sale:

    The 2008 Renwood “Red Label” Barbera displays aromas of black currant and cola. On the palate, the wine has more tannin than we normally see in a Barbera, with a smooth core of dark fruit flavors, and crisp acidity—this varietal’s signature trait.  A finish that lingers, with flavors of plum and cassis, balances the wine.  
    Grocery Outlet price: $3.99
    With 20% off discount: $3.19
    Save $5.80—65% off the retail price!   

    The Bixler Vineyards Union Island Red Table Wine exhibits rich, ripe, forward fruit, with flavors of ripe cherries, plums and berries, with a hint of French oak. This hearty wine is very approachable, pairing nicely with most any grilled red meat, sausages, winter stews or soups, pizza or marinara pasta dishes.
    Grocery Outlet price: $2.99
    With 20% off discount: $2.39
    You save $7.60—76% off the retail price!

    The Bixler Vineyards Union Island White Table Wine smells of citrus, with rich, ripe fruit and flavors of grapefruit and a hint of banana. No oak was used during aging, allowing the ripe fruit to be fully expressed in the finished wine.  This white wine blend will complement grilled chicken, pasta with pesto or white sauce, or any fish dish.
    Grocery Outlet price: $2.99
    With 20% off discount: $2.39
    You save $7.60—76% off the retail price!

    If you’re a chocolate lover, the best wine to drink with chocolate is chocolate wine!  Recommended by The Seattle Times, Chocolate Shop Red Wine is a deep, ruby red wine blended with rich, velvety chocolate. Inviting aromas of black cherry and dark chocolate combine in the glass and continue on the palate surrounded by hints of cocoa powder.  
    Grocery Outlet price: $9.99
    With 20% off discount: $7.99
    You save $7—47% off the retail price!

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  • Bargain TV: What to Get your Valentine

    This Valentine's Day, we've got you covered at Grocery Outlet Bargain Market. Let Christopher show you all of the great deals that you can pick up for your sweetheart without causing heartache for your wallet!

    What are you planning for your valentine? What's the best valentine you've ever received?

    Assignment time: what's your favorite chick flick? Leave a comment and let us know.

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  • Crock-Pot Cook Off!

    With the chillier weather, Crock-Pot recipes are high in demand.  In our latest episode of Bargain TV, Chris announces the winning Crock-Pot recipe from last week's contest (which we're posting below). Also, look for sneak peeks of Doug the bobblehead and Chris's favorite wine picks for our upcoming 20% Wine Sale!

    Jeana's Winning Crock Pot Recipe

    1 & 1/2 lbs meat (usually ground beef) of your choice from the fresh Grocery Outlet Meat Case
    1 yellow onion
    2-3 carrots or bag of GO baby carrots
    2 large russet potatoes
    2 cups beef or chicken broth
    1 cup water (or red wine)
    2 cans kidney beans
    splash of Lea and Perrins
    salt and pepper to taste

    1. Cut up veggies and meat into sizeable chunks, throw in the crockpot
    2. Add liquid ingredients and beans
    3. Add salt and pepper
    4. Cook for 4(high)-8(low) hours (the longer it cooks, the better the flavor!)
    5. Enjoy!

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  • Refreshing Summer Sips

    We're kicking off the weekend with the latest Bargain TV episode. Don't let this summer slip away without enjoying a refreshing Summer Sip.

    What's your favorite beverage to sip when the weather is hot? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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  • Eat, Drink and Be Frugal! Holiday Entertaining on a Budget

    One of our favorite holiday traditions is the parties!  There's something so magical about gathering with friends and family under the glow of the holiday decorations and the warmth of the holiday spirit; it’s a time to celebrate the people in our lives and the year behind us.

    But let's be real.  It costs money to throw a party.  And time.  Both of which are hard-pressed in December, right?  Check out these quick tips to help you play holiday hostess without spending the mostess.

    - Keep it simple.  People don't need an elaborate spread to enjoy each others' company.  Stay focused on the real spirit of the season and make your friends and family the main attraction.  But don't skimp on festive holiday tunes!

    - Skip the meal.  Time it right and you can get away without serving a full-on meal.  Consider an afternoon gathering with hot cider, cheese and crackers.  You can't beat our President Brie Wedge, 6 oz. for $1.49 (save up to $3.50).

    - Use time-saving shortcuts.  Baking holiday desserts from scratch is wonderful if you have the time.  But for those short on time try ready-made options like our Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (made by a top leading brand we aren't allowed to mention), 80 oz. tub for $4.99 (save up to $5).

    - Share the burden.  Don't be afraid to do the potluck thing.  It gives your guests a chance to show off their favorite holiday dish while you save a bowl full of money.  Ask folks to bring copies of their recipe to exchange.

    - Raise your glasses.  Add some holiday cheer to your party and toast your favorite people.  Try our Archetype Shiraz/Cabernet (Barossa Valley, Australia) 2008, for $2.99 (save up to $11).  It's a full-bodied, delicious wine sure to complement any holiday fare.  

    Surely, you have your own budget-friendly party tips, and we'd love to hear them!  How do you entertain during the holidays?

    Happy Holideals from everyone at Grocery Outlet!

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  • Doug Visits Australia

    Doug Due, our Director of Wine and Beer, recently traveled to Australia for a big wine buying trip.  Grocery Outlet's purpose is to provide quality products at extreme bargains, and sometimes we have to travel around the world to do that!


    Australian Vineyard

     Vineyard in Australia's Barossa Valley


    Here's my interview with Doug about his trip:

    What locations did you visit? Sydney, Hunter Valley, Gold Coast, Griffiths/Riverina, Melbourne, Adelaide, Barossa and McLaren Vale Valleys.

    What's the best growing season in Australia? 
    Australia is on the Southern side of the world so they are just the opposite of our growing seasons.  They harvest in February and March, we harvest in September and October.

    What's unusual or specific about Australian wines?
    Australia wines are very similar to California in style—Australians are the best producers of Shiraz in the world and they also do well with Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

    Are there any wines coming down the chain from Australia that you're excited about?
    We're bringing in Barossa and McLaren Vale Shiraz that we can sell at $5-6 a bottle. Other retailers are selling the same wine for $18-30 a bottle. I'm excited to provide that value to our customers!

    Do other countries provide better bargains than the U.S.?
    The simple answer is yes. Producing wines in California can be more expensive than Australia or South America—the cost of land, building a winery, and hiring employees can all be more expensive. That's a very general statement and there are always going to be exceptions, but overall, Australia and South America can offer better bargains because their cost structure is less.

    The extension of that question is how does that benefit our customers?  The more competition we have for our shelf space the better.  By working with other countries, our California partners have to provide as good if not a better value to earn shelf space.  Some countries do a better job with a specific varietal, for example Argentinian Malbec, Chile Carmenere, Australian Shiraz, and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc are all top varietals, and that's reflected in their value.

    What's your strategy in regards to traveling to different countries to buy?
    We want to buy the best wines from the best regions in the world.  With our buying power and efficiency of supply chain, we can offer varietal and regionally correct wines beating our competition on quality at the same price point or beating them on price while matching their quality. We're very proud of that.

    Thanks Doug! And welcome home.

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  • 2nd Place Winner - Alex Marshall

    Alex was outgoing, funny, and had some fantastic culinary ideas.  The judges liked his concept of Chicken Thighs with Beurre Blanc (a sauce made from butter and white wine) and thought his dish was refined, but he got points knocked off for execution.  The judges wanted the rice to be a little more cooked, so when you make his recipe, be sure to check the rice.

     Alex, prepping

    Alex, prepping.


    Alex, cooking.

    Alex cooking.


Pilaf with Asparagus

    Alex plating the Rice Pilaf with Asparagus.


    Alex cheering, upon winning 2nd place.

    Alex cheering, upon winning second place.

    Though Alex didn't win first place, he made a delicious dish that was inexpensive and paired well with wine.  He's also the only chef who used wine to cook with in his dish. 

    Click here to view Alex's recipes.

    Click here to see his receipt.

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  • Fresh & Frugal Chef Showdown!

    We are very excited to announce our upcoming Fresh & Frugal Chef Showdown

    We challenged three culinary students from the Art Institute of Seattle to create a restaurant quality meal (including a wine pairing!) that serves four for only $20. Our esteemed judges include Marlee Ginter from KOMO-4, Jill Taylor from 101.5 FM, Lorna Yee from Seattle Magazine, and Jason Wilson, Executive Chef for Crush Restaurant, and recent winner of the 2010 James Beard Award for Best Northwest Chef! Congratulations Jason!

    When: Saturday, June 5th, 1-3 p.m.
    Where: the brand-new Crown Hill Grocery Outlet - 8700 15th Avenue NW, Seattle, WA 98117

    This event is free and open to the public.  We'll have live entertainment, food, and prizes.  Come join us!


    Fresh & Frugal

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  • Wine Travels to Chile and Argentina, complete with earthquake!

    A couple weeks ago, our Wine Director, Doug Due, and VP of Purchasing, Steve Wilson, traveled to Chile and Argentina to source some fantastic South American wine.  South America is a current "hot" region to buy wine from, given the increasing quality of the wine, plus the still inexpensive price of the wine.

    Chile is now the fifth largest exporter of wines in the world, and the ninth largest producer. The climate has been described as midway between that of California and France. The most common grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carmenère.  

    Argentina is the fifth largest producer, and has a rich wine history, dating back to the 16th century, when the Spanish imported grape vines to the region.  Argentina is best known for its Malbec and Torrontés wines, though Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay and other international varieties are becoming more widely planted.


    Chilean Vineyard

    Doug and Steve’s first stop was in Santiago, Chile.  They visited several wineries, cherry-picking great wines.  One of the more exciting finds was Carménère wine, made from a grape found almost exclusively in Chile, although its origins are the Bordeaux region in France.  For more on Carménère, click here.
    On Wednesday, Steve and Doug flew to Mendoza, Argentina and met with 19 wineries on Thursday and Friday.  Doug is especially excited about the Malbec wines he found.  Malbec is celebrated as an Argentine varietal, though like the Carménère, it traces its origins back to Bordeaux.  Malbec is a very intense wine, so it is also commonly used in blends, such as with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon to create the red French Bordeaux claret blend.  For more on Malbec, click here.

    On Saturday, our intrepid adventurers were scheduled to fly back to Chile, but the Chile earthquake woke them up at 3:34 am!  Mendoza is 105 miles from Santiago, which is itself 100 miles from the quake’s epicenter.  The Andes dampened the effects of the quake—Mendoza shook, but did not receive anywhere near the devastation that Chile encountered.  Still, Steve said, it was quite scary to be woken up by the hotel rolling and shaking.   Instead of flying back home through Santiago, Doug and Steve transferred to flights out of Buenos Aires.  We’re happy to have them back safe and sound!

    Doug says that we will be planning a South American wine promotion in a month or two.  Since the earthquake damaged a lot of the export infrastructure, we’re still waiting for the wine to show up.  Still, when that wine comes in, it’s going to be fantastic!

    “Look for quality and pricing on par or better than what we had for Australia,” Doug says.  “We’re very excited to bring you top-quality wines at bottom-of-the-barrel prices.”

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  • Wine 101: How Grocery Outlet Buys Wine

    It’s not a stretch to say that Grocery Outlet has the best deals on wine in town.  Our process for sourcing fantastic wines at incredible deals is a little out of the ordinary, so we’d like to shed a little light on it for you.

    The 3-Tier System

    99% of total wine sold in the U.S. is moved through a 3-tier system, and wineries are the first tier.  While wineries put their heart and soul into the wines they make, they do not have the ability to sell all of their wine direct to the consumers, so they work with importers and distributors to market, sell, warehouse and deliver their product to the local wine shops, restaurants and liquor stores that sell most of the wine in America.

    The second tier in the 3-tier system is made up of the importers and in-state distributors.  Importers and distributors choose the wineries they represent, and develop a ‘Book of Brands’.  Most large importers and distributors will offer all varietals from the most famous wine growing regions of the world.  Smaller distributors are usually more specialized in what they offer, sometimes only selling wines from a specific country or region.  

    All importers and distributors bring wine into their warehouse and have salespeople that visit the wine buyers at the local wine shops, restaurants and liquor stores.  These salespeople take samples to the wine buyers, who taste the current vintages available for sale.  Wine buyers try to pick and choose wines that fit their customers’ taste or flavor profile.  The only wines offered are those represented by the importers and distributors.  As a result, buyers only have access to wines represented by importers and distributors within this system.

    The third tier in the 3-tier system is the retailer or restaurant that sells the wine to the consumer.  There are many different reasons why wine buyers chose one wine over another, but most are knowledgeable about wine, their customer base, and what they can sell.  This is why you see a large difference between a grocery store selection and a fine wine shop, from a Steak House wine list to an Italian restaurant.  

    How does Grocery Outlet come in?

    The 3-tier system is very inefficient: there’s a lag from when the winery releases the wine to when the importer and distributor have the wine available to show and sell, so sometimes they miss the window of opportunity.  Also, importers and distributors sometimes buy wines and find they cannot sell the wine at a certain price or in a specific market.  All of these inefficiencies create opportunities for non-traditional retailers like Grocery Outlet.

    The industry average is 90-95% efficiency.  In most years, importers, distributors and wineries will sell most of their wines, but almost always there’s some wine remaining.  If a winery produces 10,000 cases and is 95% effective as selling their wines, they have 500 cases at the end of the year; if a winery produces 5,000,000 they have 50,000 cases.

    These overstocks are most of what Grocery Outlet buys.  The wine can be from the winery, importer or distributor.  Past vintages are opportunistic buys, because once a vintage has been replaced by a newer vintage, the salespeople stop showing the older vintage.  Older vintages become a storage expense, not a sales opportunity.  Wineries, importers and distributors have money tied up in this stock.   To quickly move through non-performing inventory, wineries, importers, and distributors will sell the wine at cost or even a loss.

    This is why Grocery Outlet can offer wines that were sold 6 months ago at 20-35% of regular retail.  This is the first of several postings that will help you understand who we are and how we find you such great deals.


    Wine Buyer for Grocery Outlet

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