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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Wine trends for 2014

As we head into a new year it's fun to predict what 2014 will bring in the adult beverage industry. The easiest way to predict is just to look at what has happened recently. From that you can guess as well as I can on what trends will continue for the coming year.

Some of the top Sonoma/Napa area events for 2013

Acquisitions - Wineries and vineyards are changing hands at a more rapid pace as the economy improves. When the Chinese buy it's in the news, but most new ownership is American groups already in the wine business. Although there have been folks from places like Chile move into the local wine scene. Gallo and Kendall-Jackson are buying up vineyard property.

Wine quantity - 2012 and 2013 were years of large crop sizes. I wouldn't call it a wine glut, but this should help keep prices steady. By the way, in Australia, grape prices are taking a nosedive as the export-dependent Australian industry is working its way out of the worldwide recession.

Treasury Wine Estates - A multinational corporation that owns Beringer, Chateau St. Jean and many other local wineries may be in trouble. They made the news a few months ago for dumping a huge amount of wine then dumping their CEO.

New vineyards - Artesa Vineyards, owned by a Spanish wine company, has been trying for several years to put in a new vineyard in the highly-regarded Sonoma Coast appellation. The neighbors and environmentalists have been fighting to stop the clear-cutting of old second-growth forests.  A local judge recently ruled against Artesa, but you can bet they're not done trying.

National events for 2013

Wine drinking - American consumption is up for 19 straight years and shows no signs of slowing.

Drinking local - Almost 60% of wine consumed by Americans is domestic.

What we drink - Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are still numbers one and two, but the biggest growth is in sweet wines, white and red.

Who owns the market - Half of the top twenty wine brands are owned by Gallo or Constellation. These are wine labels such as Barefoot, Carlo Rossi (Gallo) plus Clos du Bois, Mondavi, Woodbridge (Constellation).

Beer and spirits - The market for high-end craft beer and expensive spirits is growing rapidly though it's not a huge percentage of the overall market.

What will 2014 bring?

I'm taking the easy way out: Improving economy means more wine sales and some of the big players continue to buy up some of the smaller ones.

One trend I'd personally like to see continue: Alcohol levels in many wines and beers go down to something reasonable. Wines with 16% and beers with 11% alcohol aren't my style. If I'm just looking for a buzz then a couple shots of a good reposado tequila is faster!

Have a safe and prosperous new year.