Thursday, October 29, 2020

Early Results / Last Chance: SVB Survey Closes Sunday Night

This year will be remembered as the year when we actually discovered the answer to the question: "What else can go wrong?" 

I can safely speak for humanity and say that nobody wants to repeat this year. There is so much we had no control over, and what we experienced wasn't always the result of our action or inaction. Still ... here we are; moving into 2021 with increasing and record numbers of  COVID cases in the US and more solutions needed for the pandemic and for our wine business. We clearly need to look for more solutions to our problems.

But I have no doubt we will survive and rebound as an industry - maybe even thrive if we make some adaptations that I will discuss again in the Annual State of the Industry Report. But all of that starts by understanding where we are. That is the beginning point. For me, understanding the business starts with the Annual Winery Conditions Survey. 

    Last Chance

The 2020 Wine Industry Survey will close Sunday night, and as of this moment we have almost 550 wineries responding versus our typical 800. For us to understand and get to the beginning point we need good tesponse rates. With weaker response rates, your 15 minutes investment in the survey has never been more critical. 

For you that have yet to respond, there is still time. We will leave the survey open until late Sunday night. Here is a link to the questions in PDF, QUESTIONS, and here is a link to the actual survey, SURVEY

If you are curious, here is what the regional participation looks like weighted by the number of wineries in the given region

(Click To Enlarge)

Special thanks to all the AVA's for participating and sending out encouragement to their constituents to participate. In particular, Washington, Oregon and Paso Robles each sent stand-alone emails from their Executive Directors in the past 36 hours and the numbers in those regions have come up. I've seen some movement from other areas particularly in San Luis Obispo, Napa, Sonoma, and Santa Barbara but don't always see what's happening in the background.

Thank you all for your efforts in this partnership without which, there can be no SVB State of the Industry Report - so thank you!!

    Early Results

Here is some interesting early information to share:

There is so much information we need to gather regarding 2020. For instance, how many wineries had crop insurance to cover their smoke taint losses? 

With preliminary information from 550 wineries as of Thursday evening, the answer is about 4% had sufficient insurance to fully cover their crop losses. Thirty-five percent of estate wineries with smoke damage had no insurance at all. So the answer is - at least preliminarily, the impact of smoke was extensive.

Asking the damage question a different way, we see 33% of respondents were outside of the affected zone, or said the other way, 67% of wineries had to deal with smoke this year ... at least based on preliminary data. A number of write-in responses said smoke impacted visitation numbers. Twenty eight percent said this could leave them short of inventory and 10% found a silver lining in being able to balance their prior oversupplied position.

Don't you want to know how that works out by region? If you have taken the survey or plan to before Sunday night, you will get that information and all the anonymized responses.

We all know change creates opportunity. So we asked what changes will stick post-COVID, and not surprisingly online sales are the top choice with Zoom and other digital outreach - taking the experience on the road, coming in second. Ten percent of the group had other thoughts and for those who take the survey, you will be able to read their anonymous and redacted suggestions. That's the only way to get that detail of information.

There is so much more to learn and we are looking forward to pulling the results apart starting Monday.

A Little Assistance Please?

We could really use help in promoting this survey to your winery constituents and colleagues. The survey will be open until Sunday November 1st. It takes about 15 minutes for most to complete, but to prepare we’ve included this link to the questions. 

As a survey participant, we will provide you the full anonymous results, top-level analysis and relevant charts. Note that the full results are distributed ONLY to those who complete the survey.


  1. I'm curious if you will share the percentages of wineries that participated by AVA in previous years as a percentage of all wineries in their regions. And wondering what you are using to determine total number of wineries in a region? Thanks!

  2. Tercero,
    I do have the prior participation charts and those have annually been sent to participants as part of their deck.

    Typically participation falls roughly in line with industry concentrations with Napa being the largest participant followed by Sonoma, then Oregon and Washington. We have some years where VA or NY is noticeable- this year VA has made a push while NY hasn't taken hold. Santa Barbara has been a strong participant in the past 5 years but not prior. Paso Robles has been light in their participation in the past but are making a good effort this year.

    There are several sources of industry winery totals. I never had looked at relative participation rates before but had to pull the information for another reason this year making the chart easy. IIRC, I retrieved those numbers from Wine America which list total US wineries at about 10k. There are other sources that list more. Obviously, that list includes a lot of very small wineries and its not perfect.


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