Millennials Prefer Wine or Liquor Over Beer

March 15, 2016

The preferred drink of millennials has shifted over recent years. Research conducted by Barclay’s William Marshall and Samuel High showed that in 1992-93 70% of 18-29 year olds chose beer as their drink of preference. Today, that number is only 40%. In addition, younger Americans who chose wine in the 1990s, only amounted to 15% while only 13% preferred liquor. Compare that to 23% and 30% approximately from today’s data.

The major beer companies have been keeping a wary eye on this trend, as it is poised to affect their business in a big way. Even the millennial beer drinkers of today prefer craft varieties over the “traditional” styles. In fact, about 44% of millennials have never tried the Budweiser brand according to a study done by the company itself. Time will tell if this trend is here to stay.

Special thanks to Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America for providing us with this information!

Hiro Sake Expands Westward

October 13, 2014

Hiro Sake recently contracted with Alliance Beverage Distributing Company to bring its Junmai Sake and Ginjo Sake to the market in Arizona. Co-founder and chief of Hiro Sake, Carlos Arana, says Arizona is just the beginning of a rigorous effort to drive the brand into western states. Over the course of the next year, the brand will launch in Illinois, Texas, Nevada, and California. Hiro’s two products, Junmai and Junmai Gingjo retail for approximately $30 a 720 ml and $40 a 720 ml.

Special thanks to Wine Spirits Daily for providing us with this information!

Scotch Whisky Exports Slip in 2014

September 24, 2014

In the first half of 2014, Scotch Whisky saw its largest decline in exports in 15 years. According to the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), exports fell 11% from January to June. The decline is being blamed on the government-induced anti-extravagance measures in China, economic slowdown in some key markets, and a stronger pound in Britain. Additionally, exports to Latvia, a hub for products going to Russia, have declined, a direct effect of Russia's crackdown on western products. 

The U.S., Germany, South Africa, Brazil, South Korea, and Mexico—all major markets—saw double-digit shipment declines, as did China and Singapore. However, many key markets enjoyed growth including France, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, India, Australia, and Japan.

With projects for new distilleries underway, and a significant amount of capital investment committed in Scotland, producers hope that the long-term prospects for the spirit will improve.

David frost, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said, "We are confident that Scotch Whisky will continue to grow in the long-term as markets stabilize and new ones, such as emerging economies across Africa, open up. However, it is clear that in the short-run there are economic headwinds affecting exports."

Special thanks to The Drinks Business and Shanken News Daily for providing us with this information!

WSSA Member’s Rosé Experiencing Rapid Growth

September 16, 2014

WSSA member, Mulderbosch, based in South Africa and part of the Terroir Capital portfolio, is experiencing significant growth largely due to the expansion of its rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon. This year Mulderbosch is forecasting a brand volume at 60,000 cases in the U.S., with the rosé making up about half of that number.

New York, in particular, is where the rosé seems to be making a hit according to Adam Mason, winemaker for Mulderbosch. What makes Mulderbosch’s rosé so distinctive is its use of Cabernet rather than more traditional varietals like Syrah and Grenache. The rosé also has a darker color than its counterparts that make up the the majority of the U.S. rosé market.

Although the rosé is certainly on the up and up in the U.S., Mason believes that focusing on a core varietal is the key to success. To that end, Mulderbosch has recently debuted a trio of single vineyard Chenin Blancs sourced from three different sites. The trio is in extremely limited production, but Mulderbosch plans to continue their production annually if the wines increase in popularity.

Special thanks to Shanken News Daily for providing us with this information!

Stoli USA Sets New Premiumization Plan In Motion

September 12, 2014

Since the year’s beginning, Stoli Group USA  has taken steps to revive its Stolichnaya vodka franchise in the U.S. The brand has seen a decrease in sales from 2.2 million cases in 2007 to around 1.5 million currently. Consequently, Stoli has transitioned the focus of its brand toward heritage and authenticity. Stoli Group USA president John Esposito also plans to implement a new premiumization strategy in the U.S., which will move the vodka’s price point up in the near future.

“We’ve successfully moved our price up to premium, which was one of our goals this year,” says Esposito, adding that Stoli’s retail price now sits at around $25-$29 a 1.75-liter and $19 a 750-ml. “Previously, we were $3-$5 a bottle below Absolut. So right now…we’ll continue to move it up. It’s where the brand belongs, and now that the advertising is there, we have a great opportunity to justify our pricing.”

The change in price will unfold as Stoli launches its latest marketing campaign, running under the tagline “THE Vodka.” The campaign, scheduled to run through 2015 and target significant metropolis areas such as New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago and Boston, will include TV, digital, print and out-of-home components.  

Stoli’s “THE Vodka” enterprise is also primed to redirect consumer attention to the brand’s principal flavors, which include blueberry, raspberry, vanilla and orange. Consequently, the brand has slowly phased out a large portion of its previous 17 flavors.

“We’ve phased out around a half-dozen flavors, and we’re probably going to phase out a couple more,” says Esposito, citing the recently eliminated cranberry, white pomegranate and Gala apple labels, among others. “Once we get that done, we’ll look at what the future means in terms of what we do with flavors and what other kinds of innovations we bring to the party.”

Special thanks to Shanken News Daily for providing us with this information!

March Proves Strongest Month Yet for Spirits

April 25, 2011

Spirits growth spiked in March, according to NABCA data for control states.  After seeing volume and dollar sales grow in the low-single digits in January and February, spirits gained 8.4% and 9.6% in volumes and dollar sales, respectively, for the month of March.  The effect of brand mix on value growth during March was 1.2%, up from February's 0.8%.

Although it would be nice to chalk it up to increased demand, Utah and Michigan reported 5-week sales period this year against 4-week period last year, which means that comparisons were off and sales results were artificially inflated.  Montgomery County also reported 4 extra selling days in March 2011.

But if you remove the results reported by Michigan, Montgomery County and Utah, control state volumes grew 5% and dollar sales gained 6.1%, which is still notably higher than February's results.  Revised brand mix effect on value growth was 1.1%.  So March was a solid month for spirits.  What is especially reassuring is that dollar sales continue to outpace volumes, which suggests industry pricing is still improving.

Once again, Irish whiskey saw the most growth, up 23.1%, while vodka grew 11.8%.  The growth rates reported for all categories - brandy/cognac, canadian whiskey, cocktails, cordials, domestic whiskey, gin, Irish whiskey, rum, scotch, tequila, and vodka - exceeded their twelve-month trends, which suggests they are improving in the short term.

In March, wine sales grew 7.2%, up from February's 2.5% growth.

Special thanks to Wine & Spirits Daily for providing this information!

Spirits Growth Slows in January, but Still a Solid Month

March 7, 2011

Spirits volumes in control states grew 1.2% in January, according to NABCA data.  Yes, growth was slower than December, where volumes climbed 2.1%, but it's not surprising since January is typically a slower month for the industry.  Rolling-twelve month volumes were up 2.3% against the 2.1% growth rate reported in December.

Dollar sales were up 1.7%, while trending at 2.9% during the past twelve months.  This was also behind the December rate of 2.1%.  The effect of brand mix on value growth during January was 0.5%, down from December's 1.3%.

During January, Irish whiskey was the fastest growing category with growth of 19% reported and a twelve month trend of 19.7%. Vodka grew during the same periods at 4.1% and 5.4%. Meanwhile, Brandy/Cognac, Canadian Whiskey, and Domestic Whiskey exceeded their twelve-month trends.

January's nine-liter wine case sales grew at 2.3%, down from December's 2.6%.  Rolling-twelve month wine volumes grew 2.9%, up slightly from last month's 2.8%.

                                     Special thanks to Wine & Spirits Daily for providing this information!

2010 Good for Wine: A Year in Review

March 3, 2011

2010 ended up being a good year for the US wine industry despite emerging from the biggest recession since the Great Depression.  The fact that wine was the biggest contributor of growth to the total alcohol beverage segment is reason enough to celebrate. SymphonyIRI's Doug Goodwin (vp of client insights) shared with WSD their 2010 Annual Wine Review report, which goes over price points, varietals and yes, brands.  Here are the highlights:

Dollar sales from the total alcohol beverage category grew 3.4% from 2007 to 2010, driven mainly by beer and wine, with wine driving the majority of growth (6.2%) in 2010 .  In fact, wine posted stronger growth each year since 2007, leading to a larger share of total alcohol (33.6%) by 2010.

Dollar sales of table wine grew 4.9%, while sparkling wine gained 6.4%. 

Meanwhile, imported wine dollar sales growth slowed in 2010 compared to 2009 (up 0.4%), while domestics gained (6.2%).  In 2010, there were "substantially fewer" imported table wines on the shelf (-5.5%). Domestic item counts decreased mildly as well (-1.2%).

$8+ AND BOXED WINE WIN 2010.  Table wines priced $8 and above posted the strongest gains among price segments in 2010, up 8.8% from 2009.  It accounted for 80% of category net dollar sales growth.  Wines below $8 grew 1.2%, but were responsible for 12% of net dollar gains due to their overall size.  Box wines were up a "healthy" 5.2%, contributing to 8% of net dollar growth.

Out of the $8+ category, wines priced $20 and above posted the most dollar sales growth: 18.4%.  That was followed by wines $15-$20 (10.5%).

Among the top ten brands with prices above $8, most posted healthy dollar growth, said the report.  Menage A Trois (43.4%), Bogle (18.6%), and La Crema (17.3%) showed "extremely strong rates," while Cupcake (216.9%), Alamos (133.4%), Apothic, Murphy Goode (79.5%), and Coppola Diamond Collection (12.8%) also drove growth.

Of those wines priced below $8 brands, over half posted losses.  Growth drivers included Barefoot (29.6%), Sutter Home (6.5%), Woodbridge (4.4%), and Gallo Family Vineyards (7.8%).  Driver brands outside the top 10 included Rex Goliath (45.7%), Southern Point, Liberty Creek (109.3%), David Stone, Madria (153.7%), and Tisdale (38.3%).

Within the top 10 Box brands, most posted double-digit growth, with the exception of Franzia and Turning Leaf, "whose growth rates were healthy, just in the single digits." Other non-top 10 brands leading gains included Big House, Foxhorn (294.8%), and Monthaven.

MOSCATO LEADS LOWER PRICED WINES.  Among wines with an average price below $5 a bottle, the most popular varietals by dollar sales growth included: white moscato, red blends, chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon.  For wine priced $5-$10, white moscato and red blends also led net gains, followed by pinot grigio, malbec, cabernet and Riesling.  And finally, the $10+ category was led by chardonnay, cabernet, pinot noir, red blends and pinot grigio.  However, malbec posted the most growth (42.7%), albeit on a smaller base.

PROSECCO TAKES SHELF SPACE.  Domestic sparkling wines grew 6.1% in 2010, while imports gained 6.9%.  French Champagne has lost one average item on store shelves, while Italian sparkling wine saw an increase of 2 items on shelves since 2007 .  Spanish sparkling also saw a "mild uptick" in the number of items since 2007.

French Champagne "got out of the red in 2010 after 2 consecutive years of losses," says the report.  It grew just 0.4% in 2010.  Meanwhile, Italian sparkling (dominated by Prosecco) grew 14% last year, and Spanish sparkling (mainly Cava) gained 7%.  In fact, Italian sparkling accounted for nearly 80% of total imported sparkling growth in 2010.

The $8-$13 segment for sparkling wine, which is "by far the largest," grew sales by 7.8%. Growth was seen across all sparkling price segments last year.

All of the top 10 sparkling brands grew in 2010, Barefoot (44.9%), Cooks (9.2%), Verdi (41%), & Mumm Napa (17.2%) stood out, which together accounted for over 45% of total brand gains.

                                  Special thanks to Wine & Spirits Daily for providing this information!

Spirits See Big Spike in January

February 22, 2011

January was a great month for spirits.  Yes we were against easy comparisons since January 2010 was flat, but it's still good news for a month that is usually slow.

Spirits saw a spike of 7.1% in dollar sales growth in the 4-weeks to February 5, according to Nielsen scans in food, drug, c-stores and liquor stores across the country.  That marks a big improvement from the already robust sales growth in December, up 4.5%.  Volumes climbed 5.7% in January, which was also better than December's volume growth of 3.6%.  And pricing improved too, with the average 750ml bottle taking a price increase of 15 cents, up from December's price increase of 12 cents.   So the industry is well positioned heading into 2011.

Whiskey, tequila and vodka all showed impressive growth in the period, with dollar sales, volumes and pricing improving from December and on a rolling basis.

Whiskey dollar sales grew 9.4% and volumes gained 6.4%.  The bulk of that growth came from Irish whiskey (sales up 35.6% and volumes up 34.1%), but all the whiskey sub-categories posted growth.  Pricing was up 39 cents a bottle in January overall, with bourbon prices up 20 cents, Canadian up 23 cents, Irish up 25 cents and Scotch up a whopping $1.14.  Prices were lower for both Irish and especially Scotch whiskey in January compared to December.

Vodka sales gained 8.1% and volumes grew 7.6%.  Prices were up 5 cents a bottle.

Tequila sales grew 8.1% and volumes gained 7.5% amid an average price increase of 10 cents a bottle. In December prices were down -32 cents a bottle, and volumes were only slightly higher than the January level.  So tequila wins the award for most improved pricing.

The only two spirits categories that had negative pricing in January were cognac (-$1.01 a bottle) and gin (-6 cents a bottle).  This was lower than their December prices as well.  However, cognac still managed to post impressive growth in dollar sales (11.4%) and volumes (14.9%) due to easy comparisons.  Gin grew sales 0.4% and volumes 1%.

And finally, rum dollar sales grew 3.5% and volumes gained 2.6%.  Prices were up 9 cents a bottle.  The rum category improved across the board from December.

PRICING DIPS FOR ULTRA-PREMIUMS.  In December it looked like price was improving for ultra-premium priced spirits.  However, that changed in January.  Prices were down -47 cents a bottle in January, compared to -19 cents in December.  January prices also worsened on a rolling basis: -47 cents for the 4-weeks; -29 cents for the 13-weeks; and -52 cents in the 52-weeks to Feb 5.  However, dollar sales and volumes grew 17.3% and 18.9%, respectively, which was higher than December's results.

Premium spirits: dollar sales grew 6.4% and volumes gained 6.5%.  Pricing was down -2 cents.

Mid-priced spirits: dollar sales grew 5.4% and volumes gained 5.5%.  Prices declined -2 cents.

Value spirits: 5.4% in sales and 4.2% in volume.  Prices were increased by 8 cents a bottle.

In terms of dollar sales and volume, all the price categories improved in January from December.  And aside from super-premium spirits, all the other categories improved pricing as well.

                                Special thanks to Wine & Spirits Daily for providing this information!

Casella Wines VS TWG: The Case of the Wallaby and the Kangaroo

January 10, 2011

Does the kangaroo featured on The Wine Group's Little Roo wine label too closely resemble the wallaby on Yellow Tail?  That's what Judge Berman of the Southern District of New York has to determine.  Casella Wines (producers of Yellow Tail) filed a lawsuit October 29, 2010, accusing The Wine Group (TWG) of trademark infringement regarding its Little Roo Australian Chardonnay, Merlot and Shiraz.

In 2001 Casella Wines began marketing Yellow Tail in the United States with a picture of a wallaby on the label.  "The Wallaby Mark depicts an Australian wallaby, which is interchangeably referred to as a kangaroo, as the two are very similar animals and are indistinguishable to most people," says the suit.  "The use of wallaby/kangaroo in profile in connection with the sale and promotion of wine, particularly Australian wine, has become an instantly recognizable hallmark of Casella's famous brand."

Fast-forward to July and August of 2010 when TWG filed applications with the TTB for the approval of labels featuring the "TWG Kangaroo Profile mark" for Little Roo's Chardonnay, Merlot, Shiraz, and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Cocannon Vineyard and Franzia Winery are listed as applicants.  TWG began selling the brands around the same time.

According to the complaint, Little Roo is available in New York, Colorado and Connecticut.  TWG "is selling or intends to soon commence selling" in Publix stores in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina.  It is also allegedly available "throughout the country in Safeway supermarket stores," including its subsidiaries such as Vons, Randalls, Dominick's and Tom Thumb.

Casella alleges that TWG's kangaroo mark "consists of a nearly identical kangaroo to Casella's famous Wallaby Mark."  For example, it claims TWG's mark "depicts" a kangaroo "in profile" that is "oriented the same direction as Casella's famous Wallaby Mark, with the kangaroo's body facing toward the left."  The suit says that both marks depict a wallaby or kangaroo "leaping."  Other "strikingly similar" features include: "the width and shape of the tail, as well as the kangaroo's body shape, structure and size."

The plaintiff also claims Little Roo's "trade dress design mimics many other elements of Casella's Merlot Trade Dress" for Yellow Tail.  According to the complaint, Little Roo has a "similar red, yellow and black color scheme; (ii) identical placement and size of the Wallaby Mark; (iii) black coloring on the neck of the bottle," and other similarities.

"In fact, in light of its apparent frequent discounting, consumers are likely to believe that the KWG Kangaroo Profile Little Roo Australian wine is a rock bottom, cheap version of Casella's Wallaby Mark brand wine," says the complaint.

In its response, TWG denies most of Casella's allegations.  For example, they argue that a kangaroo and a wallaby are not interchangeable as Casella claims in its lawsuit. "TWG denies that the Australian wallaby is interchangeably referred to as a kangaroo, that these animals are very similar, and that they are indistinguishable to most people," TWG said in its response.

Also, TWG denies Casella's allegation that "TWG has invested and engaged in no advertising or marketing for its Little Roo line" bearing the mark in question.  But it agreed to Casella's claims that Little Roo "is not listed, referenced, offered or discussed on TWG's websites," and that its wine label "is devoid of any reference to TWG."

Casella is seeking damages and the discontinuation of the TWG Kangaroo Profile Mark.

                                  Special thanks to Wine & Spirits Daily for providing this information!

Super-Premium Wines Making a Comeback

January 7, 2011

With sales growth of 5.1% and volume growth of 4.7%, we'd say that wine had a strong November.  In all, pricing was up 2 cents a bottle in the 4-weeks to December 11, according to Nielsen scan data.  The growth came from domestic wines and super-premiums ($20 and above).  Imports as a whole were lagging, particularly wines from Australia and France, but Argentina and New Zealand continued to post impressive numbers.  Here's a rundown:

-Domestics gained 1 share point in dollar sales, while posting growth of 6.6%.  Volumes grew 5.6%.  Pricing was up 6 cents a bottle.

-Imports lagged domestics, but still showed growth.  Dollar sales grew 1.4% and volumes grew 2%.  Prices were dropped by 4 cents a bottle.

-The weakest links for imported wine were Australia, France, Portugal and South Africa.

-Australian dollar sales fell -5% and lost -0.8 share points.  Volumes declined -2.8%.  Prices dropped 14 cents per bottle, which was pretty much in line with other imports.

-French wine dollar sales dropped -6.5% and volumes declined -7.4%.  You know what that means: they are sticking to price.  Prices were increased 10 cents a bottle.

-Italian and German wines did well, with dollar sales growing 3.3% and 3.5%, respectively.  Volumes grew 4.9% and 5.3%.  Prices for Italian wines dropped -13 cents a bottle, while the Germans dropped prices by -15 cents.

-The shining light for imports comes from Argentina and then New Zealand.  Dollar sales of Argentinean wine grew 23.3% and volumes increased 19.8%.  And they managed to post that growth amid a 23-cent price increase.  New Zealand wines grew 26.7% in sales and 35.7% in volumes.  But they also took the biggest discount, with price down -79 cents a bottle, as New Zealand producers struggle with an ongoing grape glut.

-Perhaps the best news was that super-premium wines ($20 and above) posted the most growth in the period.  Dollar sales grew 14.7% and took half a share point.  Volumes grew 13.6%.  And yes, the category took pricing of 26 cents a bottle.  That $20+ wines were able to post that much growth amid a price increase is a good sign for premiumization.

-Wines $9-$12 were also solid, with sales growth of 9.2% and volume growth of 10.5%.  The category took 0.8 dollar share points and 0.7 volume share points.  Prices were down -12 cents a bottle.

-Wines $15-$20 were next, with sales up 8.5% and volumes gaining 9.9%.  Prices declined -21 cents a bottle.

-Despite the cold weather, white wine (sales up 6.2% and volumes up 7.1%) had a better month than red wine (5.5% and 5%).  But white wine dropped prices -5 cents a bottle, while red wine raised prices 4 cents.

-The strongest varietals were Gamay (amid a -1.14 price decrease), Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Grigio.  Pinot Noir dropped prices by -45 cents a bottle, while Riesling dropped prices -25 cents and Pinot Grigio discounted -26 cents.  Sauvignon Blanc took an 8-cent increase and Cabernet raised prices by 10 cents.

                                Special thanks to Wine & Spirits Daily for providing this information!

Remy Receiving "Much Interest" in Champagne Unit, says Chief

November 30, 2010

Dear Client:

Since announcing plans to sell its champagne unit earlier this month, Remy Cointreau execs have remained understandably tight lipped.  This has led to a lot of speculation about which companies could possibly make a bid (Bacardi, Pernod Ricard, Diageo and private equity firms have been named), how much the unit would sell for (Credit Suisse estimates $580 million) and when the deal could take place.

Today Remy Cointreau chief Jean-Marie Laborde told reporters their announcement has generated a lot of interest and that they expect to receive the non-binding offers by the end of December.  "We have much interest for the champagnes and are waiting for the non-binding offers by the end of December," he said, according to Dow Jones.

Jean-Marie said Remy would be willing to keep those champagne brands in its distribution network if the buyer so desires.  Also, the process could be finalized around March and may lead to future acquisitions.  What kind of acquisitions, you ask?  He would not rule out Remy Cointreau getting back into the champagne business "if one day we believe there is a champagne that fits our portfolio very well, with a level of profitability we are looking for," reports the Financial Times.

But right now Remy's champagne business overall is unprofitable, and execs instead want to focus on cognac.  Jean-Marie noted: "You must focus - we are a niche player - we cannot afford to fight Diageo and Pernod Ricard because they operate in every category of wines and spirits."

FIRST HALF RESULTS.  Remy said it experienced "good resilience" in the US and Europe in the 6 months ended September 30.

Regarding cognac, the US "noted a market recovery in the second quarter."  Remy Martin did especially well in Asia, particularly the Chinese market.

Meanwhile, Piper-Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck benefitted from renewed growth of 11.7% in the 6 months on a global basis.  The company said: "It should be noted that champagne sales peak in the third quarter."

Remy's partner brands grew 10% overall, which can mainly be attributed "to the strong performance of the Scotch whisky brands distributed in the US."  That includes Macallan and Famous Grouse.

Remy summed up its statement by saying it "maintains its long-term value strategy, adhering to a consistent pricing policy in the individual markets, improving its product mix while, at the same time, increasing marketing investment behind its key brands."

                                   Special thanks to Wine & Spirits Daily for providing this information!

Nielsen: Spirits Volumes Grow on Discounts

November 29, 2010

Dear Client:

The good news is that the spirits category is growing volumes.  But they are doing so at the expense of pricing, according to recent scan data from Nielsen in the 4-weeks to November 13.  Volumes grew 3.5% against a relatively easy comparison of 0.4%, while price/mix declined -0.5%.

In a note to clients, Credit Suisse's Anthony Bucalo said this is an indication "that there are no visible signs of pricing strength as of yet for the US spirits category."  He also expects "similar results" over Thanksgiving weekend.  Yes, promotions are always more prevalent this time of year, but the hope is that discounting will be better than last year.

Each company has its own holiday strategy.  Diageo, for example, is staying true to its plan to cut back on promotions.  Pricing was up 2.3% in the 4-weeks, but that took a toll on market share, says Anthony, "as volumes widely trailed the market," down -2.3%.  Captain Morgan posted volume growth of 0.9%, but all the other major brands "remained in decline as Diageo tried to gain pricing on these brands."  Johnnie Walker Black pricing was up 3.5% but volumes declined -8.5%.  Smirnoff pricing grew 0.8%, while volumes slid -0.3%.

Pernod's results were "dull but steady," with volumes up 0.7% and flat price/mix.  As a whole, the company is losing some volume market share but gaining "slightly" on value.  Absolut volumes grew 4.3% on a discount of -3.2%.

Beam Global continues to lead the way in discounting while also managing to grow volume.  Volumes grew 20.7% for the company, although it slashed prices on brands like Courvoisier (-18%) and Gilbey's Vodka (-12%) in the past 12 weeks.

Remy Cointreau's volumes declined -0.3% on negative pricing of -1.3%.  But Remy's 52-week price/mix (2.3%) is "by far" the strongest of the group, while volumes fell -1.6%.

Special thanks to Wine & Spirits Daily for providing this information!

Holiday's Off to a Good Start for Domestic Wine

November 12, 2010

So far so good in the early part of the holiday season.  In the four weeks to October 31, wine dollar sales gained 4.7% and volumes grew 4.1%, according to IRI scans in food and drug stores.  Compare that to the four weeks to November 1, 2009, where dollar sales grew 3.7% and volumes gained only 2%.  Clearly we are doing better as a whole now than we were a year ago.
Looking just at domestics: this year dollar sales grew 6.4% and volumes gained 5.1%.  In 2009 dollar sales rose 4.7% and volumes gained 2.4%. So yes, domestic wines are looking solid.
But when we start digging into the numbers there are some areas that are a little weaker this year - specifically imports and wines priced $20 and above.  Dollar sales of imports declined -0.8% and volumes fell -0.5% in 2010.  In 2009, sales were flat and volumes were down only -0.1%.
Compared to October of last year, growth for $20+ wines has slowed.  Dollar sales of $20+ wines in 2010 gained 10.9% and volumes grew 10.7%. In 2009, sales rose 16.8% and volumes grew 21%.  But that could be due to a 4-cent price increase per 750ml bottle in 2010.
$15-$20 WINES PREVAIL. In October 2010, the strongest table wine price categories were as follows: $20+ wines; $15-$20 (sales 10.1% and volumes 13.1%); $11-$15 (5.8% and 7.2%); $8-$11 (9% and 12.9%); and $3.50-$5 (6.4% and 6.4%).  It's worth nothing that growth in the $8-$12 category in 2010 is coming from domestic wines, while imports are declining in that price range.
Super-premium wines $15-$20 have made the biggest gains since October 2009, where they were still posting growth but not as high as this year.  But keep in mind that they also cut prices by -45 cents in the 4 weeks to Oct 31, 2010. 
WHITE WINE OUTPACES RED. Interestingly, white wine is growing at a much faster rate than red in October 2010, according to IRI.  Dollar sales of white wine this year grew 7% and volumes gained 7.2%.  But last year sales grew 4.1% and volumes gained only 2.7%.  In October 2009 red wine and white wine were more evenly matched, while in October 2010 white wine took a clear lead.  But that doesn't mean red wine isn't growing.  Dollar sales gained 3.9% and volumes grew 3.1% in Oct 2010.
LOOKING JUST AT OCT 2010. The fasted growing varietals (in order) were red blends/Meritage, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Interestingly, Sauvignon Blanc took a big hit, with sales down -21.4% and volumes declining -21.1%.
Declining sales and volumes were felt by French (-12.6% and -12.3%), Australian (-9.3% and -8.3%), and Spanish (-2.8% and -6.3%) imports.  Meanwhile, Argentina (30.7% and 35%) and New Zealand (17.2% and 21.9%) continued to see the biggest gains.  But keep in mind they are also the two biggest discounters.  NZ dropped prices -48 cents per average 750ml bottle and
Argentina dropped prices -26 cents compared to a year ago.  Chile (9.8% and 9.5%) and Germany (4.1% and 5.1%) also posted solid results.
Meanwhile, Oregon (sales 8.9% and volumes 8.2%), California (6.2% and 5%) and Washington (6.1% and 5.1%) had a solid October, and all posted average price increases of 8 cents, 8 cents and 6 cents, respectively.
In your opinion, how is the holiday season going so far?  Let us know by sending an email to or dropping a line at our anonymous tip hotline.

Special thanks to Wine & Spirits Daily for providing this information!

Ordering Wine? There's an App for That

October 15, 2010 - Wine Spectator

"SmartCellar" is a downloadable application for the iPad which allows restaurants to manage their wine lists and inventory with ease.  The app allows you to customize your wine list so you can search by glass, bottle, red, white, keyword, etc.  You can even link it to your restaurant's inventory, and when your last bottle is sold, the list is automatically updated! Learn more about this awesome app by clicking the link above.

A Look at the Top Wine Brands Off-Premise

October 11, 2010

When looking at the top 20 brands in food and drug stores, it's clear that most had a solid summer.  Those brands that posted the most growth typically resorted to discounting - but not all.  And not all benefitted from discounting either.  So here's our survey of the top 20 brands in food and drug stores over the summer (12 weeks ended September 5), based on SymphonyIRI scan data.

Menage a Trois, Barefoot and Cavit Collection showed the most dollar sales and volume growth over the summer - but there's also evidence of discounting.  In fact the brands with the biggest growth tended to take the biggest discounts as well.  Here's some evidence of that: 

  • Menage a Trois took the lead with sales growth of 46.8% and volume growth of 53.6%.  They took an average price decrease of -43 cents per 750ml bottle.
  • Barefoot saw sales rise 25.2% and volumes gain 26.3%.  It took prices down by -5 cents on average.
  • Cavit Collection hails from Italy and is the only other import in the top 20 besides Yellow Tail.  It grew sales 18.7% and volumes 31.4%.  It also discounted the most by dropping prices -69 cents on average.
  • Robert Mondavi Private Selection showed solid growth of 11.7% and 19.2%, respectively, with a -60 cent average price decrease.
  • Kendall Jackson grew sales 11.5% and volumes 17.5%, and dropped prices -65 cents.
  • Sales of Clos du Bois grew 6.2% and volumes gained 10.5%.  That brand dropped prices by -42 cents on average per 750ml bottle.
  • Gallo Family Vineyards grew 10.9% in sales and 14.9% in volume, but dropped prices by -15 cents on average.
  • Chateau Ste Michelle's sales grew 11.8% and volumes gained 14.4%, while dropping prices -22 cents.
  • Woodbridge sales grew 5.8% and volumes 8.3%, while dropping prices -14 cents on average.

Discounting didn't work for everyone, however.  Yellow Tail saw dollar sales drop -0.6% and volumes gain 2% amid a -16 cent price discount.  Beringer grew sales only 1.9% and volumes 5.3% but dropped prices by -18 cents.  Fetzer dropped prices -4 cents but sales declined -12.2% and volumes fell -11.7%.

But there were also brands that took pricing and still did well.  Sutter Home raised prices by 10 cents, and grew dollar sales by 6.7% and volumes by 4.6%.  Franzia took pricing just slightly by 1 cent, and grew sales 4.2% and volumes 3.9%.

There were also top 20 brands that apparently didn't see the benefit of raising prices.  Carlos Rossi took pricing up 8 cents on average but saw sales decline -3.4% and volumes fall -6.6%.  Livingston raised prices 2 cents, but sales fell -3% and volumes declined -3.6%.  Meanwhile, Sterling Vintners raised prices by 3 cents, but sales declined -6.8% and volumes fell -7%.  Sales of Peter Vella Box Wine declined -1.1% and volumes declined -2.8%, with an average price increase of 3 cents.  And finally, Vendange's sales declined -2.3% and volumes dropped -2.7% amid a 1 cent price increase.

Special thanks to Wine & Spirits Daily for providing this information!

Moderate Drinkers May Toast Research Finding They Live Longer

August 31, 2010

There's no need to feel guilty for having one to three drinks a day.  In fact, it might as well be recommended!  Researchers from both the University of Texas and Stanford University have found that people who drink moderately are less likely to die than those who drink in excess or none at all.  The study was over a twenty year period, with ages ranging from 55 to 65.

Heat wave adds to harvest's weather woes

August 25, 2010

From moist, cool days to harsh, blistering ones, this year's vintage can't seem to keep up with the summer weather.  Vineyards all across Sonoma County have seen everything from bunch rot to sun damage.  This has been one of the most stressful seasons for growers.

Cork, Plastic, or Screwtop? The Cork Industry Tightens the Screws on the Wine Industry

July 21, 2010

Many wineries have made the transition from cork stoppers to plastic bottles and aluminum caps.  What impact does this have on cork trees and those who harvest and make a living off of them? The following article informs you about the newest way to seal wine bottles and what affect this will have on the industry.

The Tale of Yellow Tail Brand

July 21, 2010

There’s no doubt that Yellow Tail has become the dominating Australian wine brand in the world since it was first introduced by Casella Wines in 2001.  Who wouldn’t want to relax and enjoy and a satisfyingly tasting product that comes with an affordable price and a cute wallaby?  The following article dives into the success of the Yellow Tail brand with question and answers with John Casella, the managing director of Casella Wines.

Alcohol — the good side

July 21, 2010

Experts have reported affirmations that controlled amounts of consumed alcohol can help result in long life and slow cognitive decline.  The United States releases a Dietary Guidelines for Americans every five years, which include alcohol consumption.  The following article describes the benefits of alcohol consumption, as well as the US guidelines regarding this issue over the past ten years.

Will 2008 vintage show legacy of fires?

July 20, 2010

The numerous wildfires in California in 2008 caused smoke to surge for miles over thousands of acres.  Did this cause a defect to the then-ripening grapes?  The following article gives some insight on this event from owners of wineries in the areas affected by the fires.

Cheap Wines Drink Up in Recession

July 15, 2010

Even though the economy is suffering from the hardships of the recession, wine sales are not.  “In-home entertaining” has become very common during this period of instability, causing many to purchase cheaper bottles of wine to accommodate.  People are not embarrassed to bring inexpensive bottles to parties because many of them are good quality wines.

We also do wine: fun-loving South Africans see exports jump

July 14, 2010

South Africa’s wine industry has seen a drastic sales increase with the help of the World Cup.  The media coverage from the World Cup has helped people become more aware of what South Africa is all about.  Su Birch, Chief executive of Wine of South Africa, sheds some light on this “welcome boost”.

Wine Vending Machines

July 12, 2010

The Pennsylvania liquor board tested an interesting idea…wine vending machines in local supermarkets.  Customers were thrilled at the idea of having the kiosks in the grocery stores and called it “convenient, one-stop shopping”.  In PA, consumers can buy alcohol only from state-owned stores, which makes this technology very conducive.

Domestic Wine Sales Up 6.8% in April

May 17, 2010

The Symphony IRI Group has reported that there has been an increase in domestic table wine sales (all prices) since 2009.  This data is encouraging to producers of high-end wines who have been working to recover from the recession.  The figures quoted in this article are very promising to the industry.