San Rafael, Calif.
Winery hiring activity continued at an all-time high in April, up 59% for the month and 28% for the year to date..
—This past April, the winery job index rose to 275 more than three times its level in April 2009.
April also saw the third straight month of robust winery hiring activity that far exceeds the typical spring surge in the sales and hospitality sector as wineries prepare for the summer tourist season.
Other industry indicators in Wines & Vines
’ latest Wine Industry Metrics report for April showed positive growth as well, including a 6% increase in off-premise sales and 10% more direct-to-consumer shipments for the past 12 months.
The winery job index grew by 59% compared to April 2012 and by 18% for the past 12 months. Sales and hospitality jobs, which are up 85% compared to April 2012, are fueling the past three months of double-digit growth by the overall index, but wineries are looking for folks to fill more open jobs in winemaking and sales as well. Production jobs are up 31%, and sales and marketing job offers rose 54% from last year.
DtC dominated by small wineries
Total direct-to-consumer (DtC) sales, including tasting room purchases, accounts for seven out of every 10 cases sold by wineries, making less than 5,000 cases per year. Sales for wineries in the very small (1,000 to 5,000 cases per year) and limited production (less than 1,000) category sell about 70% of their wine DtC, according to survey information by WinesVinesDATA.
Wineries making more than 500,000 cases per year sell only 4% of their products direct.
And while wineries making less than 50,000 cases of wine per year account for only 7.5% of total annual U.S. wine production, they account for about 75% of the annual value of the entire DtC market.
For just shipments, DtC has reached 3.25 million cases and $1.5 billion in value in the past 12 months. In April alone, wineries collected $142 million in DtC dollars.
Off-premise shows value growth
Retail sales of domestic table wine grew 6% through April 21 this year, generating $87 million more than during the same period in 2012. The numbers reflect a continuing, long-term expansion of the off-premise wine market as measured by market research firm IRI.
The expansion reflects only a slight increase in volume (0.6% so far this year) meaning that consumers are not buying more bottles but rather adding more expensive bottles to their shopping carts.
“With the dollars being up, with the economy doing well, it shows that a lot of people are trading up,” said Curtis Mann, IRI director of wine and spirits insights. “Definitely, the industry is very healthy right now. New folks entering the wine category are entering at the $8-$11 level, and once they enter, they are not trading down as much as they did three-four years ago. That’s a pretty big step for American wine consumers to enter at that price level and stay there.”
The highest rates of growth by price segment continue to be the most expensive. Domestic wines from $11 to $14.99 per bottle grew more than 10% so far this year; those from $15 to $19.99 increased 5%, and wines at $20 or more ballooned by 19%. Sales of premium boxed wines also grew by 19%.
Flash sales and prices over time
In the flash sales channel, April's total offers were down compared to the monthly total from last year, as Lot 18 continues to pull back from the flash sales format. Lot 18 posted 19 offers this April but had 35 last year.
Since WinesVinesDATA began tracking offers in 2011, prices have stayed relatively constant aside from dips around the start of the year and a sharp increase during the summer of 2012. The average retail and flash prices of all offers by the leading websites tended to dip in late winter in 2011, 2012 and this year.
The highest prices in the past 28 months came in June and July of 2012, when Invino posted several special offers of older vintage Napa Valley wines such as a 2001 Harlan Estate for $749, a 1988 Shafer Vineyards for $250 and a 1996 Dominus for $212. The high-priced wines pushed the average retail price to nearly $60 and the average flash price rose to its highest level of around $37. Aside from this increase in the average prices, the flash discount stayed relatively constant at 40%.