Signs of a Good 2012 in the Wine Industry

UgraphTrying to assess the state of an industry just on your own or within your peer group, one starts to look for signs; runes divining the direction of things. It's all very anecdotal.

Here in Northern California in the wine industry, we notice perhaps more cars on the road on weekends; more of them in tasting room parking lots. We look at what wines folks are buying off lists. Are they splurging? We can see what our own wine related business are doing, but that might always be an anomaly.

With this particularly great recession and the havoc it has brought, looking around for signs the economy is improving in general is a daily and nearly unconscious act. So, It's always nice—very nice—when someone comes along and shows us that yes, indeed, things are improving.

Wines & Vines Magazine's December issue is out and giving great indication that things in the Wine industry have been turning around. We know this by looking through the information W&V publishes in its "Wine Industry Data Center".

This is a 31% gain over the value of direct-to-consumer shipments in October 2010. In fact, 2011 direct Wvcoversales figures as tracked by W&V has been up nearly every month this year. But nothing like this. Its a sign in particular that America's small and medium sized wineries are selling more wine at higher margins. November is traditionally the biggest month for direct shipments. What we are looking for is another big jump over 2010.

Wines & Vines also tracks job listings from wineries using data from its sister site, The 10% increase is job listings by wineries over October 2010 is another very good sign that wineries are looking to meet increased demand or are gearing up to increase production or marketing. What's even more optimistic is the fact the Wines & Vines Winery Job Index has been up every month this year with the exception of February.

The wine industry got slammed in 2008 and 2009, like many industries in the wake of the bank failures and housing crisis. Yet, this industry is in recovery, pushed forward largely by a return of buyers to the high end side of the market, that part of the market that was hit hardest by reductions in consumer spending. Wines & Vines also notes in its Data Center presentation that sales of wines priced $20 or more are up 28% year to date.

This industry, like all others, is full of competition. We all compete against each other for clients, customers, attention and dollars. But we all equally want to see the economy improve and see this industry thrive. Wines & Vines again is a messenger we can put our arm around and thank for the good news they bring.

And on another note, the Wines & Vines Magazine iPad version is an absolutely stunning, well-rendered, well packaged app. If you are still reading the magazine in its pulp version, good for you. But if you have switched over to its digital version on the iPad…even better.

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