DTC is a bright spot in a tough year for Washington wine
Following seven consecutive years of moderate-to-strong gains, shipments of bottled wine by Washington State wineries fell by 6%, or just over 700,000 cases, in 2017. The decline was attributable to a sharp contraction in shipments to distributors, both within and outside of the state. Conversely, direct to consumer sales were up by a healthy 8%, although they represent just 6% of total shipments.
The pace of decline moderated somewhat during the second half of 2017, as total shipments were down by just 2.5% in the last six months relative to the same period a year earlier. Total shipments fell by 4% during the fourth quarter.
Despite the negative headline number, nearly half of all Washington wineries experienced gains in 2017. Excluding Ste. Michelle winery licenses, which account for nearly two-thirds of the total, shipments were essentially flat. As a group, small wineries outperformed their larger counterparts by a wide margin 2017, although there were winners and losers at every level in the winery hierarchy.
Washington cider producers continue to be on a roll. Cider shipments expanded by 33% in 2017 to 866,000 cases and are poised to surpass the million case threshold in 2018 if this rate of growth continues.
The metrics shown above are based on mandatory winery reports filed with the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board.
The Washington Wine Shipment Report
For those interested in a more comprehensive analysis, The Washington Wine Shipment Report, a new quarterly publication from Vintage Economics, is now available for purchase. The report provides detailed metrics including current and historical wine shipment totals broken down by sales channel and winery size category, as well as individual totals for large wineries. It also delivers in-depth analysis of market trends and the outlook for demand. The 4Q 2017 report is now available and the 1Q 2018 report is scheduled for release at the beginning of April.
Vintage Economics also offers customized metrics and competitive analyses, including winery level detail, to help clients better understand the performance of Washington wineries and their competitive position in the marketplace. Contact Chris Bitter for more information.
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