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Tips & Tricks

Big Wine Brands vs. Independent Wineries

- Updated

Did you know that much of the wine we see at supermarket chains actually stem from just a handful of major brands? It’s true – and slightly shocking. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between big brands and independent wineries to uncover how where you shop really affects the wines you see and the bottles you bring home.

Big Wine Brands vs. Independent Wineries

  • Multi-Label Brands produce many wine & spirit labels and have wide distribution to everyday retailers (e.g. grocery stores). Based on their size, these producers can consistently offer wine at good values.
  • Independent Wineries have no more than a couple of wine labels that are produced and distributed independently. Because of their small size, these wineries have limited presence at large retailers and are generally found at highly curated wine stores and restaurants.


Big Brand Wines at Rite Aid in Seattle, WA photo by Wine Folly
Observations at Rite Aid: Rite Aid has little focus on curating their wine selection and thus, it’s dominated by larger multi-label brands. That said, it’s still a great place to find decent value.

Big brands aren’t necessarily bad, in fact, several of them are fantastic, especially if you’re looking for consistent wines at great values. That said, each big brand has different ideologies, so you’ll notice some of them are better than others. Of course, if you’re looking for truly unique wines from independent producers where you shop really makes a difference.

560+ Wine Labels From 15 Multi-Label Brands

We sourced several of the top multi-label brands (primarily in the US) so you can see exactly which wine label is associated with what brand. This is useful if you find a wine you like (or dislike) and want to know what other wines are associated with that same brand. Click below to view the pdf of 500+ wine labels and their associated multi-label brands.

Multi-Label Wine Brands (pdf)


Safeway Big Brands vs. Independent Wineries in Seattle, WA photo by Wine Folly
Observations at Safeway: The Safeway in Seattle included many more independent wineries on the shelves. This could have been because of the greater number of Washington wineries in the area, but either way, it was nice to see.

If you’re trying to understand the difference between large wine brands and small independent producers, just think about the relationship between restaurant groups and independent, chef-owned operations. Both can be known for great food, but one is working at quantities of scale (multiple locations), while the other is limited to a single location. Neither model is stictly good or bad, it’s just a matter of paying attention to the quality of ingredients and your overall experience with the brand. The same is true with wine.


Costco ratio of Independent Wineries vs Multi-label Brands
Observations at Costco: Besides the presence of a few negotiant wine brands, we were surprised to see that Costco’s wine selection had a keen focus on both high quality multi-label brands and high quality independent wineries.

Last Word: Drink Smarter

Pay attention to who makes your favorite wine. If it’s a multi-label brand, they may produce other wines that you’ll like. If it’s an independent producer, then be delighted with the uniqueness of your wine find! In either case, where you source your wine greatly influences your selection.

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AboutMadeline Puckette

James Beard Award-winning author and Wine Communicator of the Year. I co-founded Wine Folly to help people learn about wine. @WineFolly

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