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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Where is the American Wine Industry Headed?

Yeah, like I'm going to know the answer to that billion dollar question. But at least I can give you my best guess by extrapolating from readings on various trends in the local wine biz.

Executive Summary: Make an organic sparkling rosé and sell it for under $25. Nothing to it!

Millennials

Americans under 35 year old drink more wine than any other generation. This is the first time the young'uns have out-drank the rest. Less experienced drinkers are more adventurous and more likely to try different things (they're not stuck in a buttery Chardonnay rut, for instance). So they're more likely to try oddball wines from oddball countries. Who knows, maybe the 20-somethings will "discover" Chenin Blanc! Or maybe at least Cabernet Franc.

Prices

Historically the younger folks (along with the oldest) drank the cheapest wines, those under $10. As a whole the Millennials are drinking more premium wines in the $20 range. I suspect those in their early 20s are still with the least expensive wines, but overall they are premium wine drinkers. It stands to reason this price range will see the biggest growth.
image from gloriaferrer.com

Sparkling Wine

Bubbles are booming with no letup in sight. The growth will be in the $20 sparklers. Perhaps people will pay a bit more as these wines are often for special occasions. Prosecco (an Italian bubbly) is big because these wines are inexpensive and fun. Who doesn't love a good Prosecco?

Rosé

Rosés have caught on once Americans realized they weren't all cheap and sweet. They are also inexpensive and fit right in with what Millennials and the occasional wine drinker will pay. So with sparkling wines and rosés selling big guess what that means for sparkling rosé wine?

Sustainable or Organically Farmed Grapes

Everyone, especially the younger generation, is aware of the organic market and what it means. This area will grow substantially in all foods. In a few years all of Sonoma County's vineyards will be sustainable.

Craft Beverages

People love buying at a farmer's market so buying local will continue to be a growth industry. Local beers and spirits are leading the way in the beverage industry. It's a bit more difficult to buy local wine as there aren't that many places where you can grow good quality wine grapes.