Sunday, January 28, 2018

Weed is Impacting Wine Sales


         Everybody Must Get Stoned ...

I spent last week at the Unified Wine Symposium in Sacramento. I've been coming to the conference since 1995; the first year ASEV and CAWG merged their separate conferences into one. Life was very different back then.


In 1995 you could find a really good bottle of Napa Cabernet for $15, Fed Funds were 8.5%, and marijuana possession was considered a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 and prosecuted as such - right along with LSD, mescaline, and magic mushrooms.

The very next year - late in 1996, California became the first state to allow the legal use of medical marijuana, leading to the collapse of the Unified Conference and all wine sales as we knew them.

OK that last part's not true. Since that first year of Unified, wine sales in the US have experienced 20+ years of growth, even with medical marijuana coming on the scene. And Unified's Trade Show which back then didn't even fill up the first floor of the Sacramento Convention Center, now has two floors of trade show participants and a waiting list to get on the floor. Needless to say, the Unified Conference has thrived.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

2018 SVB Wine Report Videocast Replay


The 2018 Annual SVB Wine Industry Videocast was presented last Wednesday to a record audience both domestically and across the globe. You are welcome to replay and review the session above. 

I'm always happy when the videocast is over because it marks the end of 3+ months of writing and research, which is a marathon to begin with considering I have other job responsibilities and the research and report activities push through the Holiday Season. This year though, the process felt like running a half-marathon wearing ankle weights.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Disturbing Sales Growth Trends Through September




Most of wineries have already developed their strategic plans for 2018 and are starting to execute. The plans had to be put together using history as a guide, laced with a hint of a best guess. That's just the way this family owned industry has to roll.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Fire Damage Becoming Clear


When you're standing in the middle of something, it's hard to understand just how big it is, and when the Napa fires were at the early stage and there was no progress in containment, I got a sense of just how big a story it was when I started taking press calls from around the globe. The reporters all wanted to know about the extent of the damage to the wine industry, having seen the pictures from Santa Rosa of utter destruction. It's not the first time I was in this position.

When the Napa Earthquake hit, I was tasked with trying to gauge the damage to the wine business for the Federal Disaster Declaration, but in that case I had some data to work with. This time, I had a phone, spotty cell coverage, no internet with widespread power outages so couldn't see news coverage, and was only keeping current with colleagues, family, and clients using texts and cell phone.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

How Will We Recover from the Fires?


    Was That Just Last Week?


Without full containment yet, many are already looking forward to begin the recovery, even with still blurry and red eyes.

When I think about the wildfires that scoured the North Coast of California this past week, I come up with a hodgepodge of visuals – waking up to the red glow out of my bedroom window on Sunday night when it all started, a bulldozer cutting a firebreak a half mile from my home Tuesday night and saving my block, watching the heartbreaking sight of a neighbor’s home burn to the ground on a ridge Monday morning, seeing blood red sunsets, the feeling of relief when power finally came back on, and being unable to sleep listening to my cellphone screaming out Nixle Alerts every half hour telling me about a new evacuation, wondering when it would be my turn.

There are so many stressful points from the past week from which I have a lot of new stories to tell, and lots of pictures that I’ve shared on social media. It was a week that seemed more like a month, reinforced by a blur of numbingly shocking scenes.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

How Much Did Wineries Really Make in 2016?

     
One Big Happy Family



Unlike most of the business world, there's a sense in the wine business that your neighbor is part of your support mechanism. They are not a rival nor are they a competitor. Everyone freely offers support in the form of information and time. If you need a tractor because yours is mired in a soggy field, no problemo! Need a little welding and custom fabrication on a pump? I'll be right over with a welding rig. Stuck fermentation? I'll send over a portable heating unit.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Is Opening a Downtown Tasting Room Smart?


<<click on picture for better view>>

The Regulatory Landscape


Falling on the heels of a growing anti-tourism movement, of late I've taken calls from officials in three particular cities that are now considering tightening regulations, or altogether banning the growth of downtown wine tasting rooms.

What else can officials do to make the wine business more difficult? That's what many are asking. Why are municipalities working so hard to hinder success of an industry that helps pull in millions in local occupancy taxes, and donates many more millions to charity? Answer: It's just politics.

The wine industry isn't sufficiently engaging in the debate so we have ourselves to blame in part. We have a fight on our hands but don't show up in force to planning commission meetings and support applications.

We make it harder on officials who only hear from their constituent nay-saying minority. To the credit of the officials, one thing they are doing is asking around for data and facts that might help balance the debate, but I'm wondering if opening a downtown or urban tasting room is even a good business decision in the first place?