It is common knowledge that in an economic downturn, alcohol and cigarettes are perceived to be virtually recession proof. And as wine making in America has significantly increased from 440 local wineries and vineyards in 1970 to a current 7,000 across the nation, one would expect that the business of wine making and selling is indeed resistant to the outcomes of a recession or drop in the United States economy. However, while the business of a vineyard may seem impervious and ever-growing, let’s take a hard look at what a recession would mean for the American wine industry.
The American wine industry is the fourth largest producer of wine in the world and 34% of US citizen alcohol expenditures are defined as wine sales. Every state in the nation has at least one winery producing quality American wines but the Southern California Wine Country with regions of Napa and Temecula share over 90% of the U.S wine producing markets. With California’s widely known financial situation, housing over 90% of the vineyard market would imply that local wineries are indeed recession proof, but while these positive facts may be inspiring for local winery owners but they do not mean that the industry as a whole is unfazed by America’s most recent economic struggles.
A Change in Purchasing Habits
When we have economic struggles, we often see a change in purchasing habits. Retail stores see fewer customers during conventionally busy seasons and American residents cut back on the items they feel they don’t need to survive.
California resident and wine expert, Dr. James Lapsley of the University of California said it best in an interview where he discussed the changes in purchasing habits of wine drinkers, “What happened during 2008 to 2011 was that people who were fairly rich and who had seen their portfolios decline suddenly tightened their belts and said, ‘I’m no longer buying $60 Cabernets, I’m buying $30 Cabernets.’ And people who were buying $15 wines said, ‘I’m now buying $7 wines. If you were a winery producing inexpensive wine – which meant you were a very large winery because this is where you really need to have economies of scale both in production and distribution – you did really well.”
Large vs Small Wineries
The wineries in Temecula, CA are considered larger wineries not unlike those mentioned by Lapsley in his interview. However, the recession and a possible downturn today would not bode well for small wineries who may have been counting on selling their bottles at $60 to stay in business. This can mean distressed sales in locally produced wine but with a simple adjustment to pricing, our small local vineyards can last through a downturn to see the light at the end of the tunnel when the economy begins to move back into the black.
Affect on Local Wineries
While the business of a vineyard may seem impervious and ever-growing, it is obvious that just like millions of other small businesses across the nation; small local vineyards may have difficulty remaining in business. However with an adjustment to pricing and production, we can expect to see the business of a local winery make it though a down economy or recession.
Guest Author Bio
Stacey Waldron is the Internet Marketing Director for Bel Vino Winery located in Temecula California. She enjoys gardening and playing with her two dogs, Banjo and Karly on hot summer days and always makes time for a good bottle of red wine shared amongst friends.