Wines & Vines Home
Welcome Guest

Washington State Contemplates Market Impacts

Executive from Young's Market addresses effects of privatization, 2012 harvest at WAWGG conference

by Peter Mitham
washington winegrape harvest 2012
Source: National Agricultural Statistics Service
Kennewick, Wash.—Some of the best news of the week at the annual Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers convention in Kennewick was of the continued growth of the state’s winegrape industry.

The Feb. 1 release of the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s most recent numbers regarding grape production fueled much discussion in the session rooms and on the trade show floor, which was home to a number of new exhibitors this year.

NASS numbers peg the 2012 harvest at 188,000 tons—up from 145,000 tons in 2008 and just 112,000 in 2003. (Though not noted in the release, acreage also has increased over the same 10-year period—from 26,936 acres in 2003 to more than 35,000 today.)

Chardonnay remains the single most-harvested grape in the state, at 36,900 tons in 2012, but red varieties (led by Cabernet Sauvignon) topped white varieties for the first time with 50.3% of the harvest. A decade ago, reds accounted for just 45.9% of the total.

Filling the shelves
But with the 2012 harvest putting winemakers on track for record output, speakers such as Dan Ewer, Young’s Market senior vice president for the Northwest, noted that the newly privatized Washington liquor market will have extra product to move.

While the state has made headway with exports to Asia and other countries, Washington state remains prime territory for many state wineries, and Ewer brought word from the retail frontlines.

The advent of major retailers such as Total and BevMo have generated headlines and angst, and grocers such as Safeway have moved to central warehousing with dramatic effects for the wine business.

Safeway used to represent 170 separate accounts for Young’s Market in Washington; now, thanks to centralized warehousing, it represents just one. With the exception of Albertson’s, Ewer expects other grocers to follow suit in 2013.

During Wednesday’s general session examining major trends affecting the Washington state wine business, Ewer said that more retailers are planning to use centralized warehousing because it’s more cost-efficient.

While some of the cost savings may be passed along to consumers, Ewer said a greater range of products in stock and on shelves risks crowding out wine.

“There’s less space,” he said. We’re fighting for that space.…We’re fighting to keep wine top of mind.”

A taste for fine wine
And there are signs the wine business is holding its own against the spirited competition. While the alcohol business in North America runs on beer (Washington state case sales are 70% suds, approximately 20% wine and 10% spirits), the dollar value of sales reflects a more even split in spending.

Wine accounts for about a third of total dollars spent on alcohol in Washington state, and while case sales are down in the wake of privatization, the dollar value has increased 2.6%.

Ewer’s data was consistent with reports from vendors (see “Fall-Out Continues in Washington State”), who report that spirits buyers show a taste for fine wine.

Ewer told growers that the average bottle of wine in the U.S. now sells for 44 cents more now than it did a year ago. Washington state wine isn’t far behind, garnering 35 cents more per bottle at retail than a year ago.

The major variable in the outlook for 2013 is whether or not the record production vintners have flowing to market in 2013 will dilute the price gains.

On the trade show floor, however, opinion was optimistic.

Many exhibitors noted that interest from prospective buyers was steady, if not aggressive, and while the schedule may have kept activity during the day to a minimum, Wednesday afternoon’s post-session reception saw a lot of networking.

Long lines at the tasting stations testified that, if nothing else, the Washington state industry believes in itself and its long-term prospects.

Currently no comments posted for this article.

Wines & Vines Home
866.453.9701 | 415.453.9700 | Fax: 415.453.2517
65 Mitchell Blvd., Ste. A San Rafael, CA 94903
Wine Industry Metrics
Off-Premise Sales » Month   12 Months  
August 2015 $608 million
$8,178 million
August 2014 $568 million $7,729 million
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
August 2015 $80 million
$1,908 million
August 2014 $78 million $1,686 million
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
August 2015 261
August 2014 218 224
MORE » Released on 09.15.2015
Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
Download full report »


Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
Search the PWV archive »

  • October 3-11
    Lake Chelan Crush Festival
  • October 9-12
    Santa Barbara Celebration of Harvest
  • October 13-16
  • November 3-6
  • MORE »

Article: Crowd Funds 10,000 Cultivars »
Thanks for interviewing the academic breeders. They would love to be able to raise $167K...
Reader: New York Viticulture
Article: Nielsen Unpacks Package Design »
Okay, I'll state the obvious (to anyone with CPG experience) - the Wine Biz is...
Reader: Joel Miller
Article: Nielsen Unpacks Package Design »
Very interesting reading. Certainly agree with the more indirect approach of evaluating the extent to...
Reader: Roger Brooks
Article: Experimental Solution to Pierce's Disease »
Congratulations to the team! It is amazing what can be done with biological controls. Keep...
Reader: Bruce Coulthard
Article: The Spiciest Wines You Have Ever Tasted »
There are some wines from New Mexico are infused with pepper flavors. Also, The Wine...
Reader: Guest

2015 Directory/Buyer's Guide
The Wines & Vines Directory and Buyer's Guide
Wines & Vines Magazine
Digital Edition Now Available!
Wines & Vines Digital Edition Now Available
The Wines & Vines Online Marketing System
The Industry Standard winery marketing application
Latest Job Listings
 Account Representative
 Seattle, WA
Sales and Marketing
 National Sales Manager
 Napa, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Cellar Associate
 Zillah, WA
Cellar, Lab and Production
 Sales Associate
 New York, NY
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Sales Representative -...
 Atlantic City, NJ
Sales and Marketing
 Electrical, Refrigerat...
 Sonoma/Napa County, CA
Cellar, Lab and Production
 Director Of Sales
 Napa, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Concierge/Bar Back/Cas...
 St. Helena,, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Category Manager
 Concord, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Pioneer Square Tasting...
 Pioneer Square, WA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:

Home  |  About Us  |  Editors  |  Subscribe  |  Print Edition  |  Digital Edition

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
Copyright © 2001-2015 by Wine Communications Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
No material may be reproduced without written permission of the Publisher.
Wines&Vines does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited manuscripts or materials.