Five Important Wine Trends and Predictions for 2020

It’s not always easy to make predictions, but it is fun. The best way I know to do this is to look at obvious and not-so-obvious trends and try to discern where they are leading. Where is wine heading in 2020?

The Economy Will Create Value in Wine
I’ve been saying for some time now that I don’t like the path the economy is taking for any number of reasons. Real Estate trends, manufacturing slowdowns, rising debt and trade wars worry me. On top of this, we are looking at an oversupply of wine. All this leads me to believe that U.S. wine consumers will see a healthy increase in wines of value; wines that at other times would have been priced and purchased at higher prices.

An Intense Focus on Social Justice in the Wine Industry
This is perhaps the easiest trend to spot. Calls for equity, for a more intense focus on how the wine industry embraces women and minorities, and mainstream claims that white males can’t adequately serve consumers have increased in 2019. Expect the industry to grapple with these and similar issues in 2020 in a much-heightened manner.

Wine Media Consolidation
The Wine Media in the U.S. and around the world has always served a fairly small audience. And what with the advertising problems media (particularly legacy media) have encountered over the past decade, it’s no surprise that we have seen a degree of consolidation inside the wine media of late. I expect this trend to continue in 2020. I will not be surprised to see one or two wine/food publications and companies combine in an effort to take a larger share of the relatively small wine media landscape.

DTC Sales Will Still Beat Other Channels, But With Smaller Gains
The Direct To Consumer wine sales channel has long outpaced retail and restaurant wine sales and we will find they have continued to do so in 2019. And I think they will do so in 2020. But I will not be surprised to learn that the increase in the value of DTC sales slows in 2020, perhaps indicating that the premiumization trend we’ve watched over the past decade may have run its course as a driver of sale.

Retailer Wine Shipping Laws Advance
In 2019 we saw two states open for retailer wine shipping (Connecticut and Florida) two important court cases supporting the retailers pushback against protectionist laws banning wine shipments (Michigan and Illinois) and a Supreme Court decision that gave retailers and consumers good reason to believe the 20 or so discriminatory state bans on wine shipments from out-of-state wine retailers are unconstitutional. Next year will determine whether all these positive signs produce enduring results that could improve the prospects of consumers, retailers and, yes, even wineries. Currently, there are seven federal lawsuits challenging state bans on retailer shipments. The next legislative season is likely to see a number of states consider bills that legalize retailer wine shipments. By the end of 2020, I believe, we will see that legal and commercial balance is coming to the wine marketplace.

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