Is The Recession Ending In the Wine Industry?

Winejobs The Great Recession continues.

Like most folks who have an inkling about the linkage between economic growth, national greatness, prosperity and individual happiness, I am concerned that this recession could linger and create a new sense of "Normal" in which economic growth is slight to anemic.

The clearest sign that we would be pulling out of recession and seeing America's economy start to rev up again would be job growth and lower unemployment, currently at around 9%-10%—officially. A sucker for good news, I've been looking for good, positive, economic signs in the wine industry, my industry. One index does suggest real recovery. is the premier job listing site for the wine industry. Owned by The Wine Communications Group, which also operates Wine Business Monthly and Wines & Vines Magazine, is a perfect place to look to get a sense of hiring in the wine industry. And hiring there is.

The latest Index shows that there is a decided job recovery going on in the Winery sector if hirings are to be a guide. Consider the following graph showing the Index of Winery Job Postings at in the areas of Winemaking, Hospitality and Sales & Marketing for the month of June, 2008-20110.


To quote the folks at WineBusiness: "The June 2010 increase in job postings occurred in all job categories. Winemaking jobs increased 72 percent from their level in June 2009 but were 18 percent below their level in June 2008. The sales and marketing index increased 7 percent. The index is 23 percent above its level in June 2008. The hospitality job index jumped 106 percent above its level in June 2009. The hospitality job index also is 60 percent above its level in June 2008."

The following 2009/2010 WineJobs index shows that 2010 intended hiring at wineries has been up over 2009 for the first six months of the year.


Meanwhile, job listings for distributors at WineJobs does not show a similar robust increase in listings over 2009 or 2008. Perhaps just as important, it does not show a steady downward trend.


Where the job market recovery is concerned, this is all very interesting and I think positive information for the wine sector of the economy. However, as many people have noted, "alcohol" tends to be recession proof. Of course nothing is truly recession proof, but it does appear that the alcohol industry and its constituent parts do tend to react more mildly to a recession.

All that said, I think anecdotal information is important also. I can tell you that here in Napa, nearly every hospitality person I speak to tells me that sales and visits are WAY up over last year. Clearly, folks are visiting Napa and Sonoma in larger numbers than in 2009. In addition, the word I hear from retailers across the country is that sales of wine at retail are up, in some cases significantly, over last year. Now, granted this all may mean that 2009 was ridiculously bad. Or it may mean that there is a real recovery in the wine industry.

I'm going to continue to watch the index of job listings very closely. I view it as a leading economic indicator for Northern California and for he alcohol sector of the wine industry, I see its also as a slight indication of the degree of economic confidence the industry possesses


6 Responses

  1. Nancy - August 23, 2010

    I’m like you, Tom – always looking for good news. Thanks for the encouraging post!

  2. Tom - August 24, 2010

    My previous work incarnation with a consumer products company taught me that during a downturn the things you beef up are R&D and marketing. It may be that wineries have decided they need to increase outreach and provide a better in-house experience to get more customers and sales.
    As a wine retailer, though, I can say I don’t see signs that people’s buying habits are changing. My customers rarely buy wine over $15/bottle, and virtually nothing over $20. That wasn’t the case in 2007-2008. Maybe their tastes have reset and they’ll buy in greater volume.

  3. Mutineer Magazine - August 24, 2010

    This is excellent news, Tom! Thanks for pumping us up about the future of the industry!
    The Mutineers

  4. Bob - August 31, 2010

    This would almost be good news except I had a winery job in June ’09 when things looked so bad and didn’t in ’10 when things supposedly pick up. From what I’ve heard most openings receive 100 resumes, on avg. But I have recently seen another upswing in hiring in August.

  5. True Fabrications - September 4, 2010

    We speak to a lot retailers around the country everyday. I can say that the vast majority say retail sales are up dramatically over last year and as a result are hiring more help and stocking more inventory. It’s great news but all retailers are headed into Q3 and Q4 cautiously optimistic.

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