Rarely, if ever has there been such a large disconnect between what people think is happening with my business and what is actually happening. Right now, everyone seems to think that my business, as well as, all small wineries must be selling more wine than ever before. In fact, we’re basically closed because our wine sits at a location, which is non essential, so no, I can’t even sell you any wine, even if you wanted to buy some from me in the first place.
Here’s three things that I wish people understood about the current wine market in the time of Covid. Small brands are hurting, certain large brands are getting all the new sales and online sales aren’t necessarily the panacea we thought they’d be for the industry.
1) No, the one small winery whose email list you happen to be on, isn’t winning the pandemic. There’s too many examples to show to choose only one or two, but almost every small winery I know in Napa or Sonoma will deliver wine to your front door right now if you order from them. They don’t normally. Which shows one thing and one thing only: they are desperate for the business.
2) Wine Business Monthly had an article this week that shows exactly who is doing well in this crisis and who presumably isn’t. It said that “"the fastest growing brands include Barefoot, Black Box, Bota Box, Franzia, Josh, Stella Rosa, Woodbridge, and Yellow Tail" Looking at that list of who has sales increasing, what do you notice? First, they are HUGE brands. Second, they’re in every grocery store, corner market and pharmacy in the country. Those are the exact businesses that have stayed open during this entire period.
3) For years, we’ve tracked the growth of online sales for wine because many of us in the wine business thought they would be a panacea for small brands, needing direct to consumer sales to stay afloat. During the time of Covid lockdowns, online sales are skyrocketing, up at points 30% week over week and doubling in less than a month for two months straight. But, when we thought that online sales would save small brands, we thought they would grow slowly with small wineries and brands taking incremental increases as time went by. What’s happened has been a tsunami of sales, but it’s been centered around grocery delivery giants like Whole Foods. Large grocery stores largely stock only large brands, meaning that these increased online sales aren’t going to the small businesses that really need them, but instead to brands like those mentioned above.
I hope this gives everyone at least a little something to think about because no, the small brands you follow aren't doing as well as you think they are.