Then and Now: Washington's Top 20 Wineries in 2007 and 2017

· Washington Wineries,Market Trends
Photo showing tefft cellars winery which was ranked in the top 20 in 2007

The lists below show Washington’s 20 largest wineries in 2007 and 2017 ranked based on the number of bottled wine cases shipped (including cider). The names represent the trade name under which the winery operated. Note that some companies including Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and Precept Brands operate under multiple trade names, which are listed separately. The underlying data comes from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board.

The totals given at the bottom of the table illustrate the dramatic rise of the Washington wine industry over the past decade, as shipments expanded by nearly 70%. The lists also show that there has been considerable churn in the top 20 over a relatively short period as many of the state’s largest wineries in 2007 failed to flourish during an era of prosperity for the industry as a whole.

Table showing washinton's top 20 wineries in 2007 and 2017 as well as the number of cases shipped.

A few highlights:

  • Nine of the top 20 wineries in 2007 did not make the 2017 list.
  • Three of these are no longer independent wineries – Tefft Cellars, Apex, Staton Hills – although some of the brands of the later two live on under new ownership.
  • Of the 17 still in existence, eight shipped less wine in 2017 than 2007.  Note that some Michelle Loosen and Chateau Ste. Michelle shipments are likely now being recorded under the Columbia Crest trade name.
  • Three of the nine new wineries on the 2017 list are cider companies, which illustrates the dramatic rise in cider production within Washington State.
  • Five others existed in 2007 but did not make the top 20, while one, Milbrandt Family Wines, was not yet established as an independent winery.

It is also interesting to note that despite the continued rise of Ste. Michelle, the Washington wine industry has become slightly less concentrated over the last decade.

  • The top 5 accounted for 83% of the total in 2007 but just 76% in 2017.
  • The share garnered by the top 10 fell from 87% to 82%.
  • The top 20 slipped from 91% of the total to 87%.

In sum, while there have been some spectacular successes, many of the state’s largest wineries in 2007 failed to adapt to changing market realities and were left behind. Given slowing national demand growth and a quickening in the evolution of consumer preferences and behavior, it is more important than ever for wineries to develop a well-reasoned market strategy.

For those interested in more detailed winery rankings, the 1Q 2018 Washington Wine Shipment Report provides lists of the top 99 wineries in 2017 ranked by total shipments and net production, as well as top 30 lists for out-of-state shipments, in-state wholesale sales, and direct-to-consumer sales and shipments. The second quarter issue will include an analysis of trends in winery establishments and exits and satellite tasting rooms.

Chris Bitter

Vintage Economics


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