What's Happening in the U.S Wine Industry

The American wine industry has been abuzz as of late. New trends are emerging and old habits are being challenged. Let’s take a look at a few of the biggest items to make wine industry news in the first 30 days of 2019.

Direct to Consumer sales are rising.

Consumers are changing the way they buy wine and the industry is taking notice. The advent of “urban” tasting rooms and wine delivery services are drastically impacting consumers. Fortunately, direct-to-consumer wine sales are still increasing. In fact, over six million cases of wine, that’s 10% of all sales, were sold to consumers directly from wineries last year according to a report released at the Direct to Consumer Wine Symposium in Concord, California.

The biggest court case on wine in 14 years.

A court case heard in Tennessee earlier this month questioned the legality of a Tennessee law that prohibits business hopefuls from opening a wine or liquor store unless they have lived within the state for at least 2 years. The law has been declared unconstitutional by a lower court judge as it was deemed to violate the Constitution’s Commerce Clause despite potential protection from the 21st amendment. The outcome of this case could conceivably eliminate or lessen certain barriers to interstate wine commerce. More than 35 state governments and various wine groups have registered their opinions on the case thus far.  

Whiskey-barrel aged wine.

Wine aged in previously used whiskey barrels is trending. Industry producers have long used French oak barrels to age wine in an effort to save costs, but American oak barrels are on the rise as producers look to improve flavors and appeal to spirit lovers. Specifically, ex-bourbon barrels are becoming popular as they have a tendency to transfer some of their unique flavor profiles to a secondary liquid after having transferred them to a primary liquid. Consumers can expect wine aged in whiskey barrels to have hints of vanilla and smoke.

Millennials aren’t drinking as much wine.

A report from thedrinksbusiness.com indicated recently that millennials aren’t buying nearly as much wine, which is a marked shift from a report released by the Daily Dot in 2017 indicating that millennials were responsible for nearly half of all wine sales. Experts estimate that the pattern may be the result of an increase in craft beer consumption or an inconsistency in survey and research methods, although many industry officials agree that Generation X is responsible for a large portion of the wine purchased in the United States at this time.

As January closes and we head into the second month of the 2019, I believe it is safe to say that the American wine industry will continue to make headlines. Keep your eyes peeled for news on the increase in American wine sales internationally, the battle between alcohol and the legal marijuana industries, and regulatory changes in the year to come.