New York Wine & GrapeNews



NGWI, Unified, B.E.V. NY--It's Meetings Season

Shared by Dana Alexander

Category: Members

The winter months of every year, well after the harvest and during a quiet time in the cellars and markets, comprise "meetings season" when people from our industry get together in different places at different times to discuss different things.

Early this week was the winter meeting of the National Grape and Wine Initiative, an organization devoted to strategic planning for research priorities involving grapes, wine, and other grape products. John Martini and I serve on the Board representing New York, working with our colleagues from other states to create synergies and avoid duplication: What are the big picture research needs, and who is most qualified to address them?

That meeting preceded the largest convention and wine trade show in North America--the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, which draws about 15,000 people to the three-day series of seminars and networking opportunities in Sacramento. Each year the highlight is the "State of the Industry" session, were four experts provide updates on trends in the grape market, wine sales, consumer behavior, and a global perspective. Overall, despite some clear risks and challenges affecting all levels of our industry, the general consensus was that of a positive outlook. Some highlights from Jon Frederickson:

-- 383 million cases of wine were sold in the U.S. in 2015, up 2%
-- California wines accounted for 60%, imports 31%, and other states 9%
-- Higher priced wines are driving the growth: volume up 2%, value up 6%
-- "Everyday wines" are shrinking, losing sales to other beverages
-- There are 15,000 imported wine brands
-- TTB approved 137,500 different labels in 2015 (lots of clutter)
-- Wholesale consolidation has hurt small wineries in particular
-- Direct to consumer shipments (now allowed in 43 states) increased 8.5%
-- Direct sales are the lifeblood for small wineries

There is a clear trend, reflected by both vineyard planting/removal and wine consumption data, toward "premiumization" of the American wine market, which should be good news for the New York wine industry as a whole.

In about a month is another great conference put on by Cornell Cooperative Extension: B.E.V. NY on March 3-5 in Rochester. The initials stand for Business, Enology, and Viticulture, and the folks at CCE do a great job creating a great agenda. On the first morning, top officials from the New York State Liquor Authority will provide an update on the ABC law, followed by our Unity Luncheon to recognize people who have made major contributions to our industry. To register, visit