How are you trending as a wine consumer? – Current Wine Sales Trends

What’s ahead for the US wine lovers and those in the business in this troubled economy?

WTSD had taken a very long vacation from posting pending the outcome of the ludicrous environmental lawsuit against the San Diego County Tiered Winery Ordinance (TWO). Of course the gears of civil  justice grind slowly and the process often produces the wrong outcome. The last information we have on the case of San Diego Citizenry Group v. County of San Diego (D059962) is a petition for review was granted in the State Supreme Court on 1/13/2012, and it rests at 4th Appellate District Division 1 where on 02/23/2012 the case was fully briefed. You can read more of the detailed history of this case, on this blog, by hyper-linking here

While this lawsuit appeal holds a gun to the head of all Boutique Winery operations in San Diego County,  wineries and their owners, as well as wine lovers alike must get on with business and their lives…

So here’s to you non-litigious peaceful wine lovers – enjoy life, fine wine, and wishing a pox on all those who hate (BTW sustainable, organic method, environmentally friendly) wineries. Not surprisingly no incidents or problems with wine tasters have occurred in San Diego County since the enactment of the TWO.

(Gold medal winning, sustainable Eagles Nest Winery has been busy and happily hosting valued, responsible wine lovers since Fall of 2010 when the TWO was thoughtfully enacted by our forward looking County Supervisors.)

What’s ahead for the US wine lovers and those in the business in this troubled economy?

Wine Spectator’s “Year In Wine: 2012” noted a 2% increase in US wine sales ~325 million cases of wine in 2012 per Impact Databank. In a down, admittedly “crappy” economy folks refuse to give up the simple pleasures offered by their wine and food. According to Nielsen data for retail sales,  American consumers are trading up with sales of wines priced at $9 and higher growing by more than 11%, while sales of wines for less than $9 declined slightly.

We’d like to think consumers are reaching for higher quality as their palates become more trained/sophisticated. While the days of “jug wines” are long gone save for those drinking for their health or possibly to the detriment of their health,  we believe quality is preferable to quantity. We consider Eagles Nest wines a “special occasion” or Friday night wine – a reward that you earned after a long hard week battling the business world infused with widespread intergalactic/governmental stupidity. There are many levels of wine quality a daily quaffer, a weekend wine, an occasional special occasion wine,  and those few-times-in-a-lifetime wines so nothing wrong with that.

Speaking a brighter US wine future, (and jug wine, ;-))  Joe Gallo, president of E&J Gallo Winery (yes I know they are somewhat beyond jug wine today – it’s called HUMOR) said “The future offers immense opportunities for growth as we continue to witness a major shift in attitude toward wine, particularly among younger drinkers, more than 15,000 U.S. citizens per day are reaching the legal drinking age.” So what are these young folks drinking? In the recent past, it was largely imported “value wines” and what’s wrong with a great velvety $10 Carménère from Chile? Domestic producers hope that these young wine converts will become excited or at lease interested in learning about domestic terrior (we’re not talking about dogs here 😉 ) and its influence on wine character.

That previously mentioned 2% growth in 2012 was less than the 3.5% growth seen in 2011, and Champagne sales generally an indicator of the economic mood, were flat in America and slumped in the European Union in 2012. Aside from weddings, and annual family events/birthdays – not much else to celebrate – extension in unemployment benefits a joy? Probably not – hopefully a good solid job and a happy vibrant economy would be more celebration-worthy.

Wineries like many other businesses have been facing pressure to raise prices. Trader Joe’s recently raised the California price of “Two-Buck Chuck” to $2.49/bottle – east coasters have long been paying $2.99 or more (Read more about the amazing business story of Bronco Wine and Fred Franzia on this blog here).  The recession slowed winery sales and left wineries with an excess of wine in their cellars back in 2008. But increasing sales have reduced or eliminated that excess. Shrinking vineyard acreage (you don’t plant when demand in low) and three years of smaller global harvests have now created the opposite problem a wine shortage.  International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV) advised that (Oh – No!) —wine volumes around the world are at their lowest point in 37 years.  and consequently, the demand for more wine is making grapes more expensive for wineries. Years ago while working in the vineyards, we had an epiphany – there is really no way to synthesize wine – some grape grower must farm winegrapes for wineries to make wine, and us to enjoy wine – that is to say, it all starts in the vineyards.

This modest and brief post marks our quiet return to wine blogging from a Boutique winery’s perspective. We’ve been busy busy with tasting room guests for several years, thanks to the TWO, and ongoing (relentless?) vineyard and winery operations continue –  so social media posts take a back seat to wine making, winegrape growing, and bottling. But please stay tuned for a resumption in posts. There is so much to comment on in the wine world – much of it quite good. So here’s to your success, an improving economy, wisdom for our government and fine wine.



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About Author: Dennis Grimes

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