A wine deal is when you can buy a quality wine for less than retail. You need to qualify what meets your needs as a good deal based on both the price and the wine quality.
Wine deals are always on the horizon. When they show up, you must be prepared to act fast as the best wines are usually gone in a short time. There are many ways of finding a good deal...
Be advised that most often newspaper ads don't offer great discounts because of the cost of advertising.
"End of Bin"
Look for discount stores which sell "end of bin" items in all forms. They often carry wines which are closeouts of wholesalers or end of vintage wines. There are also wines from wineries which have gone out of business. For example: Havens Winery, Evergreen Winery, 5 Mile Bridge and host of others. The bank who owns a winery's assets sells them to the bidder with cash on hand. Everyone wins in this senario.
Estate Sales and Business Closings
These do not happen often, but when they do you need cash and a good eye. In the recent past I have bought wines from a home winemaking company that was moving and decided to sell rather than move inventory. At $5 a bottle, most of the wine was of superior quality and dirt cheap.
Winery email lists
This is often not the best, but smaller wineries sell small lots cheaply and are glad to both create space and close their books on the wine they have had in inventory. For example: Starry Night winery is currently offering small lots of excellent wine to clear inventory.
Your wine friends
Remember that more than one pair of eyes will find a deal. Keep all of your friends aware of the fact that you are looking for deals. Most of my best deals were because of information gleaned from a friend. My wine group of 10 keeps in constant touch and shares information.
A good source of information online is GoodCheapVino.com which provides weekly updates on wines in the greater San Francisco Bay Area.
I hope this has opened your eyes to some alternate forms of buying wine. My next post will be on the topic of what to watch out for in commercial sales and what the pitfalls are of some "good deals".