Washington wine suffers steepest decline in at least two decades

By Chris Bitter, Vintage Economics

· Washington Wine,Wine Market Trends,Grape Market Trends
Washington WineGrowers Convention 2019

I’d like to share a few of the headline numbers from a presentation I delivered today during WineVit’s State of the Industry Session (a production of the Washington Winegrowers Association). The panel also included Danny Brager (Brager Beverage Alcohol Consulting), Greg Livengood (Ciatti Company), Juan Munoz-Oca (Ste. Michelle Wine Estates) and Dick Boushey (Boushey Vineyards). The event was virtual this year - the photo above is from 2020.

It was a challenging year for Washington State wine.

Shipments of packaged wines by Washington wineries contracted by more than 900,000 cases in 2020, an 8% decline and the steepest drop since my records begin in 2000. Note that these are initial estimates and the final tally will likely be a bit better.

All four sales channels that I track finished the year in the red. Distributor shipments, both to in-state and out-of-state customers, fell sharply, an indication that surging chain store sales were not enough to offset a collapse in the on-premise channel, at least for Washington wineries. Direct-to-consumer sales/shipments held up better – they slipped just 3% and this figure could still be revised up a bit. It appears that spiking “shipments” almost made up for the loss in tasting room sales. Nonetheless, this represents a stark reversal from double-digit growth in 2019.

Washington wine will look to rebound in 2021 as the pandemic subsides.

Read the March edition of the Washington Wine Industry Update for more insights into Washington State trends. And visit our website at www.VinEconomics.com to learn more about Vintage Economics.

Chris Bitter

Vintage Economics



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