Thursday, December 10, 2015

Groundhog Day In Pennsylvania

I've just spent the past 6 weeks researching and writing the 2016 State of the Industry Report. It always sucks the life out of me because its all encompassing 12 hour days without a break, even on weekends. When it's done, I'm ready for something else entirely. I look for re-runs of Friends and I Love Lucy or comedies I've seen a zillion times like Groundhog Day ... which is the segue into an article I saw this morning titled: Pennsylvania: Sweeping liquor Reform bill advances toward full Senate and uncertain future.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Picking A Side In the Napa Winery Fight

No it's not Monday when I normally post. I got inspired midweek from Tom Wark who wrote a piece yesterday in his Fermentation Daily Wine Blog entitled Critics of the Napa Valley Wine Industry are Losing Badly. It's a passionate opinion piece of the goings-on in Napa County politics which are overheated with rhetoric. (Rhetoric | rhet·o·ric \ˈre-tə-rik\: language that is intended to influence people and that may not be honest or reasonable.)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Bottle Prices Are Going Up in 2016

How much does this wine cost?

The Annual Wine Conditions Survey is open and delivering interesting early information on supply, price, and many other interesting questions. The survey closes next week but after the first week, almost 300 of your fellow wineries have invested 12 minutes. Why take the survey when we are all busy? Because participants are the only ones who will get complete results.


Saturday, October 10, 2015

Open: 2016 Survey of Wine Conditions

Take the survey
Take the Survey
What's really going on in the wine business this moment? Can wineries raise prices? What's the supply situation in the Central Valley? Is there good land available for planting anywhere? Where is there too much supply? With the crush in the tanks now, winery owners are starting to think about 2016 and making plans.
I started researching for the Annual State of the Wine Industry Report in August and have a good idea what it's going to look like already, but I always like getting another layer of information of the current situation. So for the past decade now, I've led a survey of the current conditions in which more than 600 wineries and the major AVA's from across the country participate every year.
Ten years since we started this, I'm told by winery owners that new surveys now show up in email boxes every week. Thankfully I'm consistently told, "We look for your survey and make sure to participate." Why are we so lucky to get this kind of participation? I think there are a few reasons but bottom line, we keep the information anonymous, we aren't selling the information, and we give back more than we take.
The survey takes about 10 minutes and in exchange, we send without cost the complete survey results, dozens of relevant graphs, and our early analysis on wine industry conditions. [Last year's survey results].
Note the results this year will be released in early December only to those who participate in the survey. Ready to take the survey? Click on the link below.

Take the Survey

Monday, August 24, 2015

Will a Stock Correction mean Lower Wine Sales?

One year ago Monday, I woke to a bit of a shaking. Having been 18 miles from the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989, I was experienced enough to recognize this wasn't a run-of-the-mill quake, and in fact for me, this was far worse than Loma Prieta. I live on the fault line rupture and while Loma Prieta was far more widespead and longer, it was also deep and there was no surface rupture. This one was very shallow and far more violent if you live in southwest Napa.

Friday, August 14, 2015

What? Locals Overwhelmingly LIKE the Wine Industry

      Doesn't Everyone Hate The Wine Business?

While Napa is the current poster child for the debate, whether Sonoma, Santa Barbara, Oregon, Virginia, Paso Robles, or the San Joaquin Valley - the wine business has received it's share of public scrutiny the past few years in local press. While "wine country" is viewed by many as an idyllic place to live or retire .... certainly so if you read listings from local real estate agents, that view isn't shared by a non-homogenous mix of anti-winery folks in what is now being labeled in an on-going story of the greedy and detached winery owners and growers versus their communities.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Wine Business Data Hack: Resources Edition

A Technical Issue?

I spent an inordinate amount of time over the July 4th weekend on the Blog that was released on Monday which discussed the pilfering of 250,000 credit card records from eCellars.

I got so focused on understanding this situation I got a little freaked out yesterday when my company laptop didn't work right, my cell phone started freezing and nobody could hear me when I called, my home internet seemed to be operating at 10% of normal, and then the car battery died. WHAT IS GOING ON? .... just a bad day of negative coincidence?

Sunday, July 5, 2015

250,000 Credit Cards Stolen in Wine Industry Hack

ECommerce Payments
I've always thought the wine industry should be the most uninteresting industry for cybercrime. Wineries have lots of inventory to steal, but anyone who works in this business knows there isn't much cash to take. It all gets used up in barrels, bottles, inventory, and facilities.

Who and even more to the point, why would anyone bother to hack into a winery? It's not like there are any huge IP secrets to take. North Korea doesn't care about the 2015 vintage. Chinese spies have to get paid more to focus on our Government's and defense contractor's systems rather than messing with wineries I'd think. Pre-pubescent teenagers trying to hack winery computer systems would have more fun trying to hack celebrities' personal sites or play World of Warcraft. That's where young people can really experience virtual power and control.

Besides, the wine business is really a bitty industry; one full of mom and pop shops. So why would anyone bother to try and hack into a winery when there seem to be so many other far more interesting and larger industry targets out there to probe?

That question is no longer academic because today - right this second, hundreds of people in probably 100 separate companies are cleaning up after the personal information of 250,000 winery customers was hacked in a recent data breach. [i]

This is a really big deal. While I've heard no mention of the cost of this, it has to easily be millions of dollars in the aggregate given the number of businesses and impacted people who are cleaning up the mess thus far. And those losses are before considering any fraudulent credit card purchases which may have happened or may still happen.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Replay of 2015 DtC VideoCast + Chat

Another live videocast is in the can and has already hit summer re-runs on YouTube.

Somebody will soon be sending you some popcorn for you to pare with a pinot gris, so you can settle in with your tasting room colleagues to review the findings of the Wine Business Monthly/Silicon Valley Bank Tasting Room Survey .... feedback-results, whatever you want to call it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

SVB Direct to Consumer Live VideoCast

Silicon Valley Bank

Live Video Conference:
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Pacific Time

Register Now

Please join us for an interactive video discussion of Silicon Valley Bank's 2015 Tasting Room Survey. This promises to be a lively conversation as SVB's Rob McMillan reviews survey results and interprets industry trends in the Tasting Room and the larger Direct To Consumer chanel along with a panel of experts.
Sign up for the presentation and receive a link to the replay and the complete results of the Silicon Valley Bank 2015 Tasting Room Survey after the webinar.


Join Us On Twitter:
Follow Rob (@SVBWineon Twitter and join the conversation before, during, and after the webinar by using #SVBWine.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Should You Ever Discount Your Wine?

I'm betting nobody knows who Thorstein Veblen is. Like this picture, you have to be a little cockeyed to know him; be a Jeopardy Champion, enjoy thumbing through pictures of people who look like axe murderers, or maybe you are an economist with little to do with your free time except refresh your memory about a Veblen good?
One on-going debate in the wine business where Veblen's theories play a role is price discounts. Should you discount, and if so when and by how much? To get at an answer we'll review some economic basics. (... I know how exciting that sounds but stick with it. I won't kill you with math.)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

How Important Are Tasting Rooms to Success?

Federales posing during the 1910 Mexican Revolution

I am a closet genealogist so when I began dating my wife, I started kicking cans in her ancestors. It turned out that one of her ancestors was a minor player at the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence and a Federale. I think the system was a little less formal than what we experience today.    
But there is a bit of a standoff taking place in parts of wine country. No, the battle isn't with the Federales - not with the ABC, CDFA, BOE, TTB, or FDA each of whom has a regulatory role in the wine business. The battle is over events, tourism, and tasting rooms.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

W20 Group and VinTank Settle Down


Its fair to say that I've been involved in the wine business for a long time. I'm old enough to remember Italian Swiss Colony Wine commercials in the 60's,the Judgment of Paris in the 70's, the wine cooler craze in the 80's, and the VinTech fraud that spanned both the 80's and 90's.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Is Your AVA "Just Like Napa?"

Follow the Yellen Brick Road
     On March 16th I was invited to be THE keynote speaker at the 21st Annual Central Coast Insights. OK ... maybe I was just  "a"  keynote speaker ... OK fine. Just don't look at me like that. I was just a "basic speaker." There. I said it..... Are you happy now?

Anyway, speaking in Paso Robles I was reminded of something that has always bothered me. The region makes great wines; as good as any place on earth and yet it has gone through constant boom and bust cycles over the years. Grapes from the Central Coast go into both value priced jugs, and collectable wines too. How can that be?

You are probably a wine expert in some form if you are reading this, but do you know precisely where the Central Coast AVA is located? Are you aware of the varietals for which the AVA is best known?

Is the Central Coast "just like Napa?"

Saturday, March 14, 2015

What's the Average Starting Salary in Tasting Rooms?

I used to work in retail when I was a young man. It can be fun when you have a good dialogue with a customer but when alcohol is involved, customers like Miles and Jack in the scene above can make life pretty uncomfortable for public serving employees.

That's when you need someone behind the counter who is confident and knows how to handle those situations. And before that, you want someone who can balance sales and client experience but there is a cost to attract that kind of a person, but how much is that?

Monday, February 16, 2015

2015 State of the Industry Q&A

The Annual SVB Wine Report and the Live Broadcast is complete. For those that missed either one, the replay and report can now be accessed here: LINK.

For those who are looking for some power point slides to use in their own presentations, we've also posted 86 slides at the bottom of the page. Most of them were used in research but not used in either the Report or the Videocast. You are welcome to use the information there - with attribution of course.

The last duty I have for the year is to post the Q&A from the live videocast. This year as seems is always the case, we had participation both Nationally and from about a dozen countries. There seems to be world interest in the US Wine Industry for some reason?

The chat follows and I've littered it this year with the labels of random participants. Feel free to contact me if you have any other questions and I'll get back to you as I'm able.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sign Up: SVB Wine Report Released Next Week

Live Video Conference

Wednesday, January 21, 2015
9:30 a.m.–10:30 a.m. Pacific Time



Please join SVB on Wine, Rob McMillan, EVP and founder of Silicon Valley Bank’s Wine Division, and an expert panel as they discuss the wine business and findings from the 2015 State of the Wine Industry Report.
Rob will be joined by a panel of industry experts, including Paul Mabray, Chief Strategy Officer of VinTankGlenn Proctor, Partner in the Ciatti Company, and Amy Hoopes, Chief Marketing Officer/EVP Global Sales, Wente Family Estates in this interactive video conference, including live viewer Q & A.

This annual industry report is based on SVB’s in-depth survey of wine industry experts and insiders, third-party research, and Rob’s unique perspective as a long-time member of the wine industry.

This presentation will include insight on:
  • Global Economy and its impact on the wine industry
  • Winery financial performance
  • Predictions on 2015 sales growth
  • Wine inventory position
  • Consumer demand trends
  • Harvest yields and their impacts
  • Bottle pricing decisions
  • Bulk import activity
  • Digital trends (CRM, DtC Sales, Social Media, 3rd-Party Marketers, and Compliance)
Sign up for the presentation and receive a link to the replay and the complete Silicon Valley Bank State of the Wine Industry Report 2015 after the webinar.

Please share this important industry educational opportunity on your preferred social media apps!!!


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Are Wineries Going to Buy Fewer Grapes in 2015?

Buying More or Less Tonnage in 2015?

Self-Imposed Marooning  

I know the above chart is a little hard to read. When I start working on the Annual State of the Industry Report each year in October, the industry starts off a little hard to read too. I kinda go into this almost shipwrecked mode and cut myself off from normal business interactions and then a combination of research, survey, interviews, and analysis eventually gets me to a point where I can start writing and eventually escape my self-imposed marooning. 

What I hate about the delay between finishing the report and publishing, is the world moves substantially at times and my predictions are out in the wind hanging there .... exposed to the elements for all to see. If my predictions were off when the paper is released, who wants to read the rest? Or, if they were on they can still sometimes be a retrospective view by then if events move quicker than expected. It's a little unnerving during the wait, but you'll have to tell me how I did when you read the report and watch the Live Videocast.

The State of the Industry report for this year is going to be released January 21st along with the live video broadcast. If you haven't, you can still sign up for that here: [register].