Sunday, October 10, 2021

2021 will be the BEST YEAR EVER for a lot of Wineries!


SVB Wine Conditions Survey

Problems are Opportunities Waiting for Solutions

This is the last week to participate in the Annual SVB Winery Conditions Survey. It will close Friday, October 15th.

There is no information like this available anywhere in the wine business. We take on this initiative annually at a substantial cost, but we give it all away to the industry. This data is used by Associations to apply for grants, by academia for research and in V&E classrooms, as a benchmarking tool for all wineries, and as part of the research we do to prepare the Annual SVB Wine Report. That said, it's impossible for me to provide the information without you dedicating the 15 minutes needed to complete the survey. 

There are always interesting surprises along the way, and this year is no exception. 

As I prepare to begin the writing on the SVB State of the Wine Industry Report, I am aware of many headwinds such as supply-chain problems, fires, smoke, the unprecedented drought, low soil moisture that will be a larger part of 2022, short supply of labor, rising input costs, water rationing, issues with property insurance, dealing with mandated vaccination policies, travel restrictions, and what will likely be declining overall volume sales for the total wine category this year. 

Monday, October 4, 2021

SVB Survey Early Results: Water Worries


Water Concern

The Annual SVB Winery Conditions Survey has been open for one week and will close on October 15th. We currently have about 200 of the 1,000 responses we will need for thorough analysis. You can get us closer to 1,000 responses by participating this year.

Even with low initial participation, there is some preliminary information coming into focus. 

Water is clearly a worry with 42% of responders expressing concern they may have a serious problem in 2022, while 51% are on edge but believe they should be fine (headline slide). That leaves only about 7% feeling confident about water supply going into next year which tells us for these responders - water is a real concern.

It will be interesting to test this in the spring when rain totals come into focus because from all I've read, we will need a flood year with heavy snowpack to see improving reservoir levels and soil moisture content in the western states. And what are the chances of having an abnormally wet year? The answer is in the word 'abnormal.'

So if the chances are high that 2022 will be a serious year for water concerns, what are people planning on doing about the problem?

Monday, July 5, 2021

Wine Demand is Turning Negative, Defying Good News

Photo by Mohau Mannathoko

I don't like it but...

it's true. I might have missed on a prediction that I made. 

Starting in January of this year, I began predicting that overall wine demand would grow through and into at least 2022. As the days passed, the better-than-expected situation with COVID vaccinations became clearer, so I held firm to my forecast and underscored it further in a March blog post. There were so many positives to support my faith in our industry's 2021 opportunity, how could I not be optimistic? 

The Wind's At Our Back

We are sitting with the highest GDP in decades. Fiscal and monetary stimulus from the government is being delivered in trainloads. Restaurant and tasting room sales are being added back to the calculus. Internet sales are at records. Frustrated and cooped-up consumers with exploding personal savings are desperate to spend it on experiences like travel and tourism. The jobs numbers are increasingly positive. And, the stock market is at record highs producing even more discretionary income. 

Sunday, June 6, 2021

The 2021 DTC Videocast Brings Clarity to a Changed Consumer

The Report

Fifteen hundred people signed up to watch the 2021 Silicon Valley Bank Annual Direct to Consumer Videocast held on May 25th, where we released the newly formatted and constructed benchmarks and metrics from the March 2021 DTC survey. 

I'd say the broadcast went well, outside of my worst nightmare coming true when my internet died in the opening and I had to switch wireless connections. No matter. I survived one more Zoom surprise. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

The Annual SVB Direct to Consumer Webcast is Tuesday May 25th


    How do you sell wine in a Pandemic?

That was the question asked in middle-March 2020 as the industry, country, and world awoke to discover that we were living in circumstances that seemed more like a second-rate Hollywood movie. 

Now, more than a year into the COVID Pandemic, we have answered many of those early questions, and we’ve discovered a few things about ourselves along the way, about our ability to adapt, create, and even thrive in some cases during a period I would describe as the most difficult business conditions since Prohibition.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Why Am I so Optimistic about 2021

Opportunity Knocks

Ebullience! That's a word we haven't heard much in the past year. But I predict that's only the start. You might soon also hear such rare terms as buoyancy, vivacity, and euphoria bandied about. 

Count me in the camp that is exuberant for the opportunity presented to us in 2021 - 2022. I can't wait to work again in a group practicing social nearness sans masks as in the headline picture... though my vision of tomorrow has a nicer desk than the headline picture. Why so cheerful you ask?

I covered some of the information in this post when we announced the opening of the SVB 2021 Direct to Consumer survey. 

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Discover 2021 Consumer Trends by Participating in the Annual Direct to Consumer Survey

    Let's Never have Another Year like 2020

I opened the 2021 SVB State of the Industry Report with this line: "2020 will go down as the year in which we answered the heretofore rhetorical question, what else can go wrong? 

We are all glad 2020 is over. We are all grateful vaccinations are signaling an end to what we've endured this past year, and almost uniformly across America, there is renewed optimism that 2021 will be better as we move into spring.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Predicting Higher Demand for Wine in 2021.

    The Case to be Made for a Party 

At the end of Prohibition in the U.S. the consumption of wine as measured, slowly grew until war was declared in 1941 and rationing took over everyday lives. Whiskey distilleries were repurposed to produce grain alcohol for torpedo fuel, which interestingly created unintended consequences of new cocktails for sailors and higher rum consumption in the U.S. Fifteen percent of total beer production was allocated to servicemen and while wine wasn't rationed, prices of alcohol increased during the war making it difficult to afford a bottle of anything, so wine consumption fell. 

Imagine the exuberance at the end of 1945 when WWII came to an end, completing a fifteen-year period that spanned the 1929 Market Crash exacerbated by the Dust Bowl, leading to the Great Depression, food lines, increased poverty and homelessness, and high levels of unemployment. 

On August 15th, 1945 with Japan's surrender and acceptance of the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, there was hope those unhappy times would soon be behind the country. The sacrifice of the Greatest Generation had paid off and the men and women in the military would soon be coming home! Life would eventually return to an altered normal - but a much better one full of peace and hopefulness.

As the soldiers were brought home starting in 1945 with those in the European Theatre under Operation Magic Carpet, a rolling party broke out on the homefront. It is estimated that 1946 consumption of alcohol reached pre-prohibition levels of 2 liters per capita. Wine became a beverage of interest for many of the returning service members who had experienced European wine.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

SVB Annual State of the Industry Report and Videocast is Wednesday. Sign up!


    We're All Glad that Year is Over

2020 will go down as the year in which we answered the heretofore rhetorical question - What else can go wrong? That is the opening line from the 2021 SVB State of the Industry Report that will come out Wednesday the 13th. 

Throughout 2020 many of us experienced the same run of emotions from disbelief, fear, acceptance, determination, and occasionally even a bit of joy through one of the most difficult times in history. As we went through the year, we would think to ourselves - this has to be the worst of it. It has to get better from here? 

We all fought through a series of events, increasing our vocabulary along the way: Coronavirus, COVID, S.I.P. Orders, social distancing, Zoom meetings, herd immunity, PPE, and pandemic - which I thought only happened in bad science fiction movies before last March.

    Will 2021 Be Better than 2020?

I can say with absolute confidence that 2021 will be better than 2020, but I can also say that “normal,” when we get there, will be different from what we left. But we have lives to live and businesses to run so let's get to it! 

Despite the headwinds and distractions, there are opportunities we need to consider and take advantage of and consumers who will be looking to buy your wine. 

We need information and the right tools to be able to plan. While we have to talk about the past for context, this coming Wednesday, I hope to give everyone the benefit of a look forward.

Start with the headline slide for a teaser. Despite the gloomy events of the past year, luxury wine sales held their own, particularly when you consider this performance in context with the last recession. The last recession featured trading down. This recession has given a breath of life to trading up again! Aren't you curious why?

Sunday, January 3, 2021

The Annual SVB State of the Industry Report is Arriving January 13th. Sign up for the Webinar and Report!


This is the opening photo from the 20th Annual SVB State of the Industry Report where we begin with a reflection; not on our industry, but on how we each as individuals adapted and prevailed during the most unique business conditions in our lifetimes. 

It's important to celebrate this victory but now that vaccines are being given and we can see an end in sight, what's next? Will business conditions return to normal? 

If we answer that question truthfully, the answer is no. That means doing nothing and hoping for a good year will produce poor outcomes. Change is needed and will require all wine businesses to apply the learnings from 2020 and evolve to find the unique prescription for your individual winey's success.