U.S. Consumer Direct Wine Sales Grow 7% to $3 Billion in 2008

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Small and mid-sized wineries enjoy continued growth and remain cautiously optimistic about 2009 as consumer interest shifts to wine clubs and online sales.

Consumer demand for fine wine purchased directly from U.S. wineries reached a new record level in 2008, according to the latest research results reported today by wine marketing advisors, VinterActive LLC.

Based on their annual VinQuest™ survey of the nation's 3500+ bonded wineries, VinterActive reports that tasting room, wine club, internet, and mail order sales grew 7% to a record $3 Billion in 2008 as consumer demand remained strong for fine wines produced locally by vintners across the U.S.

While many larger established wineries reported declines in wine club membership and tasting room visits in 2008, growing small and mid-sized wineries reported solid gains in wine club, online and mail order sales as consumer spending continues to shift from on-site to off-site sales.

Key findings of this year's research reveal:

  •     Total direct sales by U.S. wineries in 2008: $3 Billion
  •     Overall direct sales growth in 2008: 7%
  •     Tasting room sales decline in 2008: -1%
  •     Wine club sales growth in 2008: 28%
  •     Online wine sales growth in 2008: 26%
  •     Mail order sales growth in 2008: 24%
  •     Phone order sales growth in 2008: 3%
  •     Event sales decline in 2008: -11%
  •     U.S. wineries projecting consumer direct as their fastest growing sales channel in 2009: 59%

Despite significant concerns about the economy and continuing challenges with interstate shipping regulations, consumer direct wine sales remain a bright spot in the U.S. economy with winery sales managers in most U.S. regions forecasting growth of 5% to 10% in 2009.

This year's VinQuest research report also identifies key benchmarks for direct sales performance across major U.S. wine regions and provides a detailed comparison of tasting room, wine club and online direct sales at U.S. wineries of every size.

The complete 70-page VinQuest™ 2009 wine industry research report including detailed response to all survey questions, time-series views and proprietary regional winery performance data is available from VinterActive LLC at a cost of $1595.

About VinQuest™ 2009
The VinQuest™ 2009 research project was conducted by wine marketing advisors VinterActive LLC with support from a national coalition of wine industry associations in an effort to better understand the size and dynamics of the U.S. consumer direct wine sales channel. Now in its fifth consecutive year, VinQuest has become the largest and most widely used source of consumer direct sales data in the U.S. wine industry.

Participating winery associations include: WineAmerica, Napa Valley Vintners, New York Wine & Grape Foundation, Illinois Wine, Russian River Wine Road, Heart of Sonoma Valley Association, Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, Oregon Wine Board, Michigan Grape & Wine Industry Council, Seneca Lake Wine Trail, and the Paso Robles Wine Alliance. Initial guidance and encouragement was provided by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

About VinterActive LLC
VinterActive LLC is a leader in the research and practice of consumer direct wine marketing, winery website design and winery ecommerce. Founded in 2001, VinterActive's global team of direct marketing experts, wine sales advisors, and system engineers have identified and developed proprietary techniques for increasing tasting room, wine club and online sales that have proven effective for both large and small wineries seeking to maximize their share of the rapidly growing consumer direct sales channel.

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Bryan St. Amant
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