What is boutique wine?

Four wine glasses

Alain Guillemain, founder of Wine Valet, doesn’t like to let a good thing pass him by. Maybe that’s one of the reasons he’s so good at collecting beautiful boutique wines.  

We sat down with him to talk about his passion, while getting to the bottom of what boutique wine really is (and why you might want to start keeping more of them at home).

What are boutique wines?

Boutique wines are expressive. The grapes are usually handpicked and you often find that they are made by families, who might own a single vineyard in one wine region of the country.  

There is no scientific way to describe them. Put simply, they are wines made differently. Since boutique wines are made in small batches, the production process doesn’t get automated or overpowered by machinery. Boutique winemakers are so close to every step, from growing the grapes to bottling the wine, and they’re able to get quite experimental.  

Boutique wines are truly a labour of love and the vision of the winemaker gets bottled up in a much more intimate way.  

They are often only available at cellar doors, wine clubs, and restaurants. So, many people don’t get the opportunity to experience their artisanal style. They can be more expensive than typical wines, but they’re usually quite emblematic of the region that they come from. Every boutique wine has its own identity and once you meet one, it’s hard to get sick of them.  

What’s the best experience you’ve had with a boutique wine?

Green grapes
A picnic table and chairs in a vineyard

Wine has a magical way of bringing us closer to the people who sit across from us, and that moment evolved into one of the biggest pursuits of my life.

My mind instantly goes back to the beginnings of Wine Valet in 2018. 

I’m sitting across from a French woman at our breakup dinner (yes, that’s a thing with the French!). We’re indulging in a four-course degustation with matching wines and reading little love letters that we wrote to one another. 

I’m part French too, so this experience felt completely natural to me.  

Suddenly, the waiter brings out an Italian wine. It was smokey and it had depth. I took a photo of the label (front and back to be sure). It was a Hilberg Pasquero Nebbiolo 2013. The following Monday morning, I found the name of the importer on the label and gave them a call. Sadly, they couldn’t sell me any wine unless I had a liquor licence. 

That wasn’t going to do. I sourced a temporary licence and that was enough for them. I could finally source this beautiful boutique wine that you can only find in restaurants, not bottle shops. It became clear to me that there must be other people who would want to have exquisite wines like this at home.  

Wine has a magical way of bringing us closer to the people who sit across from us, and that moment evolved into one of the biggest pursuits of my life.  

Now I get to spend my time thinking about how to bring customers closer to the most talented winemakers in the country. 


Why is it so hard to buy boutique wines?

It’s estimated that there are over 2,000 wineries across 65 wine-growing regions in Australia, but most people only know about a few of them. Boutique wine producers only make and sell a little bit of wine at a time. As a result, they’re not individually positioned to supply massive bottle shop chains. They would run out of wine so quickly in that type of arrangement.  

They also love having a relationship with their customers. They love having people coming to their cellar door, doing tastings, and then buying wines while they’re there. It also makes sense for them to strike up relationships with restaurants, which tend to bring in plenty of wine lovers. 

Unless the average person is doing a lot of travelling, a lot of wine tasting, and a lot of fine dining, they simply won’t ever discover these wines. 

Corked wine bottles lined up side by side

Why might someone want to keep boutique wine at home?

We’ve all been there. It’s a Saturday night and you want to drink some wine, but you’ve got nothing on hand. You end up going to the bottle shop, often to the same aisle, to pick up something that you know you kind of like. 

Wine Valet aims to break that lazy habit by making it easy to keep a collection of boutique wines at home. Our mission is to deliver people wines that they’re going to love and empower them to explore new varietals. We also want to connect boutique winemakers with the people that they’ve always wanted to reach so that they can continue producing to their full potential. 

Trying new things is healthy, whether it’s a break-up dinner or tasting a bottle of wine with a name that you’ve never heard of. Exploring boutique wines at home is a beautiful way to expand your horizons – on your own or with loved ones, acquaintances, friends, or family.  

Wine Valet keeps those experiences right at your fingertips. 

Experience boutique wine with Wine Valet