Guide to Understanding Wine Release Dates

Karen Frazier
Vintner pouring red wine

If you've ever wondered why your favorite wine is on the shelves in abundance one month, but hard to find months later, it's because of wine release dates. The best way to find the release date of a wine is to either call or visit the vineyard's website to find the exact date of release. Unfortunately, there is no general time frame or list of release dates around the world. The only wine released at the same time every year is Beaujolais Nouveau.

About Wine Release Dates

When you think about it, different regions of the world have different planting, harvesting, and bottling schedules. They also have varying climates that affect when the grapes are planted and harvested, so it makes sense that there are not general release dates for different wine-producing regions of the world. The exact date of any wine's release depends on the winery. There are, however, times of the year in which more wines are released to the public. This is mostly due to the same general time of the year in which the grapes are harvested. As a general rule of thumb, more wines are released during the early spring and fall than in the summer and winter.

Some Specific Wine Release Dates

There are a few wineries that list specific release dates within certain years. Keep in mind that those release dates may vary a little from year to year. Generally, the wines will be released in the same season.

February 2020 Release Examples

Some wine enthusiasts have been waiting for the release of some of their favorite wines for a few years. Here are a few wine releases for February 2020:

Now, you may think that these are very specific releases and are wondering about the following years. What you need to keep in mind is that most wineries, unless it is a special batch or vintage, release the same label wines around the same time every year. So, for example, the 2015 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon has a February 2020 release date. You can translate that into the fact that the 2016 Silver Oak Cab would probably have a release date in February of 2021. Meaning, Silver Oak waits about five years before releasing some of their best cabs.

What Affects Wine Release Dates?

The single largest determiner of what affects a wine's release date is when the wine is ready. White wines often release much more closely to harvest than reds do, for example. Why? Because red wines often need significant time in the barrel to soften tannins and infuse the wine with oak flavors. Of course, this is a general rule and not always true. For example, some oaked whites spend time in the barrel and don't release right away. Likewise, in the case of the red wine Beaujolais Nouveau, it releases as quickly after harvest as fermentation makes it possible - on the third Thursday in November. Some wineries may also hold back on premium or flagship wines with delayed release dates in order to build customer and industry buzz. Vintage specific conditions may also affect how long it takes a wine to be ready, so release dates may be affected by this as well. Likewise, regional wineries may have a "release day" or "release weekend" event, and local wineries may choose to release their new wines to correspond with such events.

Where to Find Wine Release Dates

If you're waiting for a particular wine, then your best bet is to contact the winery and inquire about release dates. However, there is also a database called WineRelease that lists the release dates for many wines from around the world. It lists historical wine releases for various wineries as well as a few upcoming releases, so it's a good place to start your search.

Getting in Line for Popular Wine Releases

If you're awaiting releases of popular wines, one way to make sure you're in line and able to purchase the wine before it sells out is to join that winery's wine club. Many wineries offer special releases only for club members. Likewise, with extremely popular cult wines, some never hit the open market and the entire inventory releases to its club members only.

Line up for Your Favorite Bottle of Wine

With a little research and perhaps a phone call or two, you can ensure that when a wine releases, you're ready to grab a bottle or a case. So if you have a favorite wine and you know it sells out fast, mark your spot in line by learning about the release dates for the next vintage so you don't miss out.

Guide to Understanding Wine Release Dates