Top Winery Web Stories of 2014

Reports about top brands and early harvest were most popular at winesandvines.com

by Wines & Vines staff
San Rafael, Calif.—The most popular story on winesandvines.com in 2014 was a report about the top 20 luxury wine brands.

Perhaps this is not surprising, as the subject holds interest for those in wine production and the wine trade. The June 13 article by associate editor Andrew Adams drew the highest number of page views for Wines & Vines’ original web stories, which appear on the website every business day.

That news story was based on data from the market-research firm IRI, which is based in Chicago, Ill. The data is one aspect of Wines Vines Analytics’ wine industry metrics that track the overall health of the industry and are updated each month.

Rounding out the rest of the top 10 most popular web stories of 2014 were articles about the early California harvest, a new Napa winery opening in spectacular style, a big move by E. & J. Gallo Winery in the North Coast and reports about trends in wine sales and real estate. Wines & Vines senior correspondent Paul Franson, who is based in Napa, Calif., wrote five of the top 10 stories.

1. Top 20 Luxury Wine Brands
Decoy takes No. 2 position in $20 and higher category

“Aside from one import in the top spot and an addition from California’s Central Coast, the top-performing wine brands in the off-premise sector priced higher than $20 per bottle are from wineries based in either Napa or Sonoma county. Decoy, by Napa Valley-based Duckhorn Vineyards, moved into the No. 2 spot after being listed at No. 4 when Wines & Vines compiled the same list two years ago. Decoy’s sales grew by 50% to just less than 86,000 cases in the stores tracked by IRI.”

2. Early 2014 Grape Harvest Begins
California vintners optimistic about early vintage with continued high quality

“An early vintage is getting started in the North Coast, where a few vintners are picking grapes this week (in late July) for their sparkling and rosé wine programs. While the 2013 vintage arrived earlier than normal, some growers see signs that 2014 will be even earlier. They’re happy to report, though, that grape quality is comparable to 2012 and 2013, and yields are expected to be slightly above average if not as big as in 2013.”

3. Billionaire Opens Winery in Dramatic Fashion
Kieu Hoang christens Napa Valley winery with celebrity singers, fashion and cosmetics

“Kieu Hoang opened for business in the former Michael Mondavi family winery, blending his KHKMY Fashion, KHKMY anti-aging cosmetics and RAAS Nutritional connections in a way the valley has never seen. The grand opening Nov. 1 featured celebrity singers and an actress called the ‘Angelina Jolie’ of China, slinky blond models, over-the-top décor and food, and a most-unusual after-dinner presentation promoting Hoang’s cosmetics, fashions and nutritional products as much as his wine.”

4. Gallo Buys Solano County Winery
Wine giant finalizes purchase of Ledgewood Creek and 400 acres

“Modesto-based E. & J. Gallo Winery purchased Ledgewood Creek Winery in Suisun Valley, Calif., in late April for an undisclosed price. The 15,000-case winery, founded in 2001, has 400 acres of producing vineyards and—perhaps most importantly—an ample supply of water.”

5. Wine Losing On-Premise Sales
Restaurant executive sees more customers opting for beer, spirits

“With sales up every year, abundant wine supplies and the continued economic recovery, even this year’s drought hasn’t dampened the elation that most people in the wine industry are feeling. Still, trouble may lie ahead: The millennial drinkers wineries seemed confident of winning aren’t playing the game right: They’re increasingly enchanted with cocktails and craft beer, according to some observers.”

6. Study Identifies Wine Consumer Personalities
Constellation Brands unveils new version of Project Genome, naming six consumer segments

“Constellation Brands on June 23 rolled out the new and improved version of its long-running Project Genome study that personifies wine consumer groups using demographic segments. In this third phase of the 10-year-old study, the giant publicly traded wine and spirits company found wide extremes in consumer attitudes toward wine, and created three new segments of consumer to help all tiers of the wine trade better understand their customers.”

7. Number of Wineries Grows to 8,391 in North America
U.S. winery production up 6.3%, according to the latest data from Wines & Vines

“New data from Wines & Vines magazine confirm solid growth in the North American wine industry during 2013. The number of wineries grew to 8,391, a gain of 4.3%. U.S. wineries showed two other signs of health as their combined production increased 6.3% and the winery average bottle price rose from $9 to $10.85.”

8. Revenue Rises with Private Tastings
In disclosing results from tasting room survey, panelists stress importance of revering wine club members and respecting staff

“Private tastings generate big returns. The average purchase from a “by appointment only” tasting is $294 vs. an average purchase of $70 from an “open to the public” tasting experience.”

9. It’s a Vineyard Seller's Market
Speakers at financial symposium compare data and trends in West Coast states

“Producers from California and France are looking to Oregon because of the relatively high quality vineyards, good water supply and attractive pricing relative to California and Burgundy for planted vineyards. The value of California wine grapes grew from about $200 million in 1973 to $3.25 billion last year, and with the growth, vineyards prices have followed.”

10. DtC Is Lifeblood of Wineries, Banker Says
Industry executive warns that wineries would close without direct-to-consumer sales; meanwhile, Napa residents question new projects

“Most Napa wineries will not survive without an increasing emphasis on direct-to-consumer sales, according to Rob McMillan, executive vice president and founder of Silicon Valley Bank’s wine division.”

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