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By: Barbara Barrielle

Dire warnings, cautions, and stories of winegrowers beginning to feel the pinch of a stagnating wine market have emerged through the harvest season. It’s clear, growers and winemakers may have to make hard adjustments for the 2020 market conditions, and to help them one of the highlights of this year’s WIN Expo will be an insightful look into the State of the North Coast Wine Industry from grape market to retails and consumer behavior.

State of the North Coast Wine Industry

The session will be moderated by Wine Industry Advisor editor Kim Badenfort and features a panel of experts from several specialties to discuss the growing, marketing and perception of North Coast wines. “Our goal with this session was to bring in three experts with access to vast amounts of data and the ability to distill it into meaningful insights for the North Coast wine industry,” says Badenfort. “They will each focus on the distinct area of their expertise from the grape markets, to retail, and the macro economic environment that impacts business and consumer behavior.”

Glenn Procter
Glenn Proctor

Glenn Proctor is a partner at the Ciatti Company where he brokers wine and grapes between buyers and sellers. He has over 28 years of experience relating to wine supply strategy, wine-grape quality and production, brand strategy, and business development. He was previously the Vice President of Winegrowing for Diageo Chateau and Estate Wines, and before that was a Director at Benziger/Glen Ellen Winery during its rapid growth in the early 1990’s. Glenn has served on many boards and has been active as a community leader promoting agriculture at state and local levels.

Badenfort points out, “It’s not news to growers that the current grape market presents challenges for them, but I believe that Glenn’s expertise and perspective both as a grower and a grape broker can help forecast how the market is likely to develop and illuminate some approaches that winegrowers can consider to weather the storm.”

When asked about the recent 2019 harvest, Proctor interjected, “The 2019 Harvest was not the 2018 Harvest – in 2018 we had a historically large harvest – in 2019 we had a normal Harvest and the quality to date appears to be very good,” says Proctor. “So, as an industry we still need to work through the 2018 Wine inventory we have in the tank – but having a more normal 2019 harvest at high quality should help us be closer to being balanced as we move forward. But there is still a lot of work to do to get to that point.”

“Times may continue to be difficult for grape sellers as we move forward into 2020. We think it is important to put energy and effort into your existing relationships and make sure your current buyers finding value in the relationship they have with you,” says Proctor. “And, if you have older, non-productive, or diseased vineyards – now may be the time to remove those vineyards and put your resources into your vineyards that have the greatest opportunity for a return.”

Mike Provance
Mike Provance

As CEO of 3×3 Insights, Mike Provance leads a company that helps brands and retailers reach an elusive breed of consumer – the discerning drinker who shops in independent package and liquor stores. Mike and his team of industry and technology experts shape the independent drinking customer journey by applying product and consumer insights to the challenge of putting the right product in the right customer’s hands through the right experience.

“I’m very interested to hear what Mike’s deep dive into 3×3’s data for North Coast wines reveals and how he thinks wineries can use that data to hone their pricing strategies and find new market opportunities,” says Badenfort.

Provance plans to discuss in detail the market for North Coast wines in his market of independent retailers, primarily on the East Coast. He will concentrate on:

  • View of variation across state markets in the competitiveness of North Coast wines.
  • A unique perspective on pricing strategies across subcategories for North Coast wines in our independent retailer network.
  • Merchandising and promotion opportunities based on sell-out shopping basket patterns.

“The North Coast wines exhibit great variations in their basket patterns, but within the set some consistencies can be found — some wines from the same variety are clearly winter wines and swap positions with others consistently in the baskets,” says Provance. “Also, a view in the product performance in the network can create price-taking opportunities for some brands and volume-capture opportunities for others where price drops can make them more competitive.”

Dr. Robert Eyler
Dr. Robert Eyler

Dr. Robert Eyler is the Dean of the School of Extended and International Education at Sonoma State University and will lend an academic insight into the state of North Coast Wines.

Dr. Eyler is Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for Regional Economic Analysis at Sonoma State University, where he has been teaching since 1995. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis in 1998. Dr. Eyler also serves on the board of directors of Redwood Credit Union, a $5.5 billion nonprofit financial cooperative. His macroeconomic forecast will place the conversation into the national context.

For more information and conference registration information, go to wineindustryexpo.com.

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