Merlot enjoyed the biggest increase in average price per bottle from November 2010 to November 2011 among the 10 most popular varietals for direct-to-consumer shipments from U.S. wineries. Merlot increased $5 and passed Cabernet Franc, while Cabernet Sauvignon--already at the top of the scale--went up $4 per bottle to $63. Sparkling wine lost the most ground, from $35 down to $30.
The winery economy was heading for a great year's end, according to the November data that Wines & Vines analyzed from three sources. Domestic wine sales at retail, direct-to-consumer wine shipments and winery job activity all finished November far above the levels of November 2010 and 2009. Since December is typically the biggest month for retail sales, the year will probably end with even higher numbers than shown on the Domestic Wine Sales graph here. DtC shipments are not particularly a holiday phenomenon, however, and are expected to decrease as usual in December.
Sales of domestic wine in major U.S. food and drug stores surpassed $430 million in the four-week period ending Nov. 27, 2011.
Direct-to-consumer shipments from U.S. wineries in 2011 ran ahead of 2010 shipments in every month through November, when dollar sales beat the previous November by 12%.
Winery hiring activity increased from 2009 to 2010 and rose again in all but one month of 2011 through November, according to Winejobs.com.