The latest Direct to Consumer report is a wine wonk’s delight.
It was just released by ShipCompliant and wine industry magazine Wines & Vines to coincide with the Unified Wines & Grape Symposium held in Sacramento this week.
It is stuffed with statistics about wines shipped directly to consumers, bypassing the traditional three-tier channel of wholesalers and retailers or restaurants.
The direct business grew 8 percent in 2015, far higher than the total wine market. The retail off-premise wine volume grew only 2.2 percent, according to Nielsen.
Perhaps the most notable number for Napa Valley: Last year, consumer shipments from Napa Valley wineries exceeded $1 billion for the first time. That far surpassed any other wine region and accounted for 50 percent of the total market for direct-to-consumer wines by value.
Total direct shipments were almost $2 billion, $1.97 billion representing 4.29 billion cases of wine.
Other interesting news: More than half (56 percent) of all direct shipments are to California, Texas, New York, Florida and Illinois.
Sonoma had 17 percent of the value, as did the rest of California.
Napa’s bounty was achieved with only 32 percent of the volume, though that was also higher than Sonoma’s 25.5 percent.
The report also demonstrated that most wineries are small. Only 61 produce more than 500,000 cases per year, with 3,626 making 1,000-4,999 and 3,157 making fewer than 1,000. Small wineries (5,000-49,999 cases annually) account for 1,538 wineries and those between 50,000 and 499,999 for 256 companies.
“Small” wineries — perhaps the most common in Napa Valley — account for almost half the value shipped, however, though very small wineries have the highest average price per bottle at $57.36.
The average value of a shipped bottle slipped to $38.23 from $48.40 in 2014.
The fastest growing type of wine is red blends, which grew 20 percent in volume last year. Pinot noir, which grew 22 percent in 2014, slipped to only 2 percent growth in 2015.
Napa cabernet, the valley’s star, grew almost 16 percent in value and averaged $92.70 per bottle, up 5 percent.
It should be noted, however, that the largest direct channel remains sales in tasting rooms, followed by sales to wine club members, almost all recruited at tasting rooms. That’s the crux of the controversy here over tasting rooms. They’re vital to most wineries.
Number of wineries continues to grow
The United States now has 8,702 wineries and North America 9,436, according to a separate report just released by Wines & Vines and its Wines Vines Analytics.
Of the United States’ wineries, 7,062 are bonded, and the other 1,640 are “virtual” wineries that make their wine at other wineries’ facilities.
Not surprisingly, 4,054 of the wineries are in California, 43 percent of the total. That’s down significantly from the days when California had most of the country’s wineries.
Of course, California still makes most of the wine, 85 percent in 2014, but that’s compared with 90 percent only a few years ago as other states have increased production faster than California.
Washington was second with 718 wineries and Oregon had 689 but grew faster in number.
Next is New York with 367, but British Columbia with 298 has more wineries than any other states, although Virginia isn’t far behind with 262.
Fourteen states each have at least 100 wineries, and two others, Iowa and Wisconsin, each have 99 and are likely to exceed 100 this year.
Every state has wineries, and half now have at least 50. Canada has 671 wineries.
And as if that weren’t enough data, Silicon Valley Bank also just released its rather downbeat annual report of the wine business. Napa Valley is a bright spot, however. You can find the report at svb.com/wine-report.