Safeway Wine Department – The Good and the Bad

Safeway wine sale

Wild Thing -fantastic price

Good and Bad when shopping for wine at the Safeway.

The Good – Two Things

Thirty-Percent-off Sale

California wineries that produce wine in huge case amounts can be represented on the shelves at many supermarket stores. Because stores buy in huge quantities, they can get much better deals than smaller stores. I perused the shelves at two Safeway stores near my home and spotted these prices. This is indeed a good sale on these and other wines when you purchase six bottles, matching or mixing. This wine sale takes place at different times during the year.

Note the first price is for one bottle, the second price is when you mix or match six bottles of wine

  • Robert Mondavi Chardonnay 2008 $12.99/$11.99
  • Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet 2009 $17.76/$15.84
  • Pascual Toso 2010 $9.44/$8.50
  • Kunde Chardonnay $8.74/$7.86
  • Louis Maritini Sonoma Cabernet 2010 $10.99/$9.89
  • H3 Columbia Crest Merlot 2009 $9.99/$8.99
  • Ferrari Carano Fume Blanc 2011 $11.89/$10.70
  • Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 2009 $13.29/$11.96

Convenience

With most of us strapped for time, it is very convenient to get your shopping done all in one stop.

The Bad – Four Things

30% off is highest possible price

In the photo the Ferrari-Carano wine shows the normal price is $16.98. It is not even that much at the winery. I have not seen this wine priced in any store higher than $13.99. In this case, 30% off is misleading the consumer. Your are not really saving that much. Know your wine prices!

Imports

The import section at the Safeway wine department is meager at best. There are only a few Italian wines, a few Argentine wines. I did not see any French or Spanish wines at either of my two stores.

Variety is the Spice of Life

Just about the only wines, you will find at the Safeway stores are major brands and the most popular varietals. Chances are you will not find any Riesling, Albariño, Rousanne, Grenache, or other lesser-known varietals. If you just choose the traditional varietals, you are truly missing out on a wine experience.

Wine advice

There is usually no wine expert to guide you in your choices.

Wines of the Year

Comments

  1. Joe – The current vintage of the FC Fume Blanc is one of my personal favorites. I have probably purchased close 24 bottles of that wine from Safeway.

    Josh Moser
    Founder of VinoServant
    Breaking Down Restaurant Wine Lists
    http://vinoservant.com

  2. John johnson says:

    For what it’s worth, the Safeway on market St near san francisco’s Castro has a rather impressive selection. I recently saw dominus 05, argyle nuthouse, beaucastel cndp, and many other higher end wines. I’ll agree on their starting price being high and the savings only being marginal, but there are still savings to be had.

    • Thanks for this great tip. I have noticed that my Burlingame Safeway store has a much better selection than the Millbrae Store. I agree that on certain wines you can get a huge savings.

      • John johnson says:

        I went back to reassess, and while the sf store has some good wines, they are for the most part so overpriced that even at 40% off, they are more than at K&L or other wine shops. One great qpr wine I have had, 2008 Columbia crest H3 Cabernet ($8.99 when buying 6) is usually $9.99 at K&L. That dollar is not worth supporting the general policy of overpricing their wines. I’d say pass…

        • Kevin Kingrey says:

          Columbia Crest is usually around 8 or 9 bucks even without buying 6, at least it has been lately. Rite-Aid is usually the same or slightly lower.
          We have a Rite-Aid on the same block as our Safeway, and Rite Aid-usually has them beat by a buck or two.

  3. Jeannie says:

    What am I looking for label wise when referring to WA Malbec wine?

    • If the wine says Malbec, 75% of the wine has to be produced from the Malbec grape. I did not know that WA is producing any Malbec wines.
      Joe

  4. Your comment about not saving much is dead wrong. When Safeway has their 30% off sale their shelf price is below the best wholesale price available from the distributor. I know because I work for the largest distributor in the country. BV Napa Cabernet for $11.85/btl. That is the best value you will ever find in any wine section.

    • Please continue to add more comments like. The inside information is very helpful to us who are search of the ultimate wine bargain. Keep your tips flowing.

      Joe

  5. Safeway has definitely jacked up the price of the wines (that I normally buy) for the 30% off sale and the end result is the normal price that I paid before the sale. A near rip-off!

    In Livermore a Fenestra True Red is normally $10 but for the sale it is $14 (I buy this wine multiple times per month). Other (Livemore) wines are similarly jacked up.

    I am VERY disappointed in Safeway for this deceptive practice.

    Buyer Beware.

    • I think you are correct with a few exceptions. Since I buy a lot of Domain Chandon sparkling wine I keep a close track of prices. When Safeway charges $11.99 per bottle for six, that is a deal than cannot be beat.
      Joe

  6. I have seen cases bith at Safewy and Lucky where even AFTER the 30% discount and the additional 10% off when buying 6 / 4 or more respectively, it is still A LOT more expensive than the Costco price for the exact same wine and vintage.

    • Not true any longer. Safeway has recently targeted the Costco wine prices. Several well known brands are now cheaper at Safeway. Stay tuned because in a few weeks I will post some concrete comparisons. No kidding!

      • James Goodman says:

        Still waiting, after two years….

        There are a few oddball wines where Safeway beats Costco, but it’s really apples vs. oranges, because Safeway’s stock is much more constant and predictable, whereas Costco is ever-changing. I think by the time you post prices for both stores, at least one will have changed or been discontinued.

        • My goal is to review a wine I have purchased the previous week so that the wine will be in the store and at the same price. Since each store is different in each neighborhood the wines I recommend may not be at that Safeway or Costco. You are right about the wine inventory at the Safeway. It is more consistent.

  7. This article is dead wrong! I spend approximately $600 a month on wine and Safeway is always where I buy my wine. To be honest I have never tried the wine in question its a little bit below the quality of wine I regularly purchase. However, I know from experience that I have never been able to find pricing comparable to Safeway for a good quality wine. I have also compared Safeway’s wine prices to other stores and surprisingly found that the regular price before the sales discount was fairly accurate. I say “surprisingly” because I am aware that it is a common practice to mark up merchandise prior to offering discounts. But I have found this not to be the case with Safeway. The prices seem to be fairly accurate and I have verified this over and over again. So Safeway has earned my trust and I will continue to purchase the majority of my wine there.

    • I just stumbled across this thread after googling “Safeway wine”. I also buy over half of my wine at Safeway and I agree with the previous poster that especially during their 30% sale the prices are mostly unbeatable. Who cares about the “original” price, no one ever pays it! That said, Safeway’s selection can range from average boring supermarket stuff to world-class depending on the store. You can’t tell what you’re in for until you walk down the aisle. My store in Orinda has a pretty run of the mill selection, but one town over in Lafayette it’s amazing. In, fact, that’s what I was googling Safeway for in the first place, to find other “fancy” Safeway wine shops.

  8. Bob McDonough says:

    I just purchased a bottle of
    Tree Rivers Merlot for $30.49 after they
    applied the March 30% off sale.
    So their regular price for this wine must be $39.65
    I checked around and the wine sells for $21 at the winery
    and is available for $16-$19 online.
    At Safeway the regular price is what you would pay
    for the wine in a restaurant it seems.

  9. Kevin Kingrey says:

    The comment about the Import section at Safeway is completely false. At Safeway Hood River Oregon (my hometown) there is an excellent full-time sommelier on staff. The import section is replete with Argentines, Italians, and really good section of Spanish wines. I always know I can find a decent Rioja at Safeway anywhere in the Portland metro area.

    • I have been to several Safeways around the greater S.F. Bay Area. They are all not created equal as far as wine departments. The higher the income area, the better the wine department. These also tend to have wine stewards. By the way, I am a huge fan of Spanish wines.

      • Kevin Kingrey says:

        I love Spanish wines!
        Yes, I believe there is probably a great deal of divergence between stores. Safeway in the Portland area and in my hometown store tend to put Northwest wines up front; Columbia Valley Cabs and Merlots, Willamette Valley Pinots. California wines very well represented.
        I think French wines don’t get that much attention because of the market. Pacific Northwesterners tend to love local, and with so much goodness to choose from, I think the market here tends to be PNW-centric.

  10. Kevin Kingrey says:

    BTW- Love this page! My wife and I are huge fans of NOT overpaying for wine, so it’s good to have a resource. Nice work.

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