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?

Hope is not a strategy

At this stage in the survey, there are broad solutions to the problem expressed with employing new technology (16%) leading the list of options (nearby chart). Interestingly, a similar percentage of respondents (15%) plan on doing nothing. Hope is good, but as I say often, 'hope is not a strategy.' 

That said, about 85% are planning on making some changes to address water concerns.

In a related finding, no matter what the mitigation strategy is, what is clear from the answers thus far is there is an expectation among many that we will have lower yields -  managed or natural, should we continue with drought in the western states. 

Of course, the regional impact of those results could also play into grape purchase plans and supply levels, depending on the location of those responding. Virginia is not Oregon, and Oregon isn't Sonoma when it comes to water. 

We will go deeper into that question both in the survey and in the annual report based on region - if we get sufficient responses to drill down below top-level findings. We will need to have significantly higher responses from all major regions if we are to produce these results.

The Survey:

If you own or operate a winery, I ask you to please contribute your information to the data set so our industry can get better information and guidance. 

We can't produce free information like this without you doing your part!

Please note that for the first time, we will only be sending charts and the complete data set to those who fully participate in the survey. We will no longer release charts from the survey that are discussed in the videocast to the general public.  If you want the information that is derived from the survey, you will need to spend 15 minutes answering the survey.

The survey will be open from September 27 through October 15. It takes about 15 minutes for most to complete, but to prepare, we’ve included [this PDF] as a guide. 

Thank you for participating in the survey, and for helping the wine industry get a clearer picture of our current state and what lies in front of us.