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COVID-19’s Lasting Impact on the Wine Industry Sets the Stage for 2023 Opportunities

  • International Bulk Wine and Spirits Show

By Laurie Wachter

The challenges of the past few years have driven significant change in the wine sector, and 2023 will require continued adaptation. To help wineries understand the trends and anticipate the challenges and opportunities, Wine Industry Network is hosting Bold Predictions 2023, a virtual wine industry leadership conference on February 8, 2023, presented by Heffernan Insurance Brokers.

In the opening session, Four Takes on Twentythree, four industry experts with different vantage points will share their expert insights and Bold Predictions for 2023 to help winery executives overcome obstacles and take full advantage of the opportunities to boost their bottom lines. To set the stage, we asked three of them for their insights on the lasting and most impactful trends emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dale Stratton, President, Wine Market Council

Dale Stratton

“In today’s world, if you talk about the wine consumer, you’re really talking about the total beverage consumer since they drink across all categories. The biggest long-term impact COVID will have on the beverage alcohol consumer is where they consume and how they acquire the products. Shelter-in-place forced the shutdown of on-premise, and proprietors quickly pivoted to delivery services and takeout menus, with cities and states changing laws to support them. There was an immediate jump in home delivery direct from the winery and third-party apps like Drizzly. That was three years ago, and home delivery is here to stay. It won’t show huge growth and will probably dip a little this year, but the net gain is significant and will continue to be a larger part of how consumers get their product than pre-pandemic.”

Philana Bouvier, President, Demeine Estates

Philana Bouvier, President / Demeine Estates

“You have to be optimistic about the wine industry. The pandemic made people more aware of wellness and how we spend our time. Although data suggests wine is softening at some price points, luxury is still growing. Those who cut back on their drinking during the lockdowns are returning to social drinking settings and gatherings.”

“We’ll see a return to some of 2019’s emerging patterns, including continued growth in digital sales. The influence of premiumization will continue, and as people learn more about the products they consume, they will increasingly care about the ethos behind their brands. Being authentic about sustainability, which we know is an important factor in consumer purchasing decisions, means investing in the future of natural farming and winemaking.”

“People also learned to value their space during the pandemic, and employers need to honor that with solutions like flexible work hours and parental leave. Diversity also matters, not only when recruiting for internal teams, but also supporting other organizations that actively promote diversity in the wine industry.”

Damien Wilson, Hamel Family Faculty Chair of Wine Business, Sonoma State University

Damien Wilson, Hamel Family Faculty Chair of Wine Business / Sonoma State University

“The transition to online occurred because consumers had no choice. Two online companies said one-third of their customers were new in the first quarter of the pandemic. Consumers usually change by small increments because the less change you make, the easier it is. The pandemic obliged them to learn something they weren’t comfortable with; now, it will become a habit.”

“There is clear and concerning growth in the market share of new drink products in other categories —not just RTDs but also packaging innovation. Before the pandemic, it was easy to dismiss the impact of cans and tetra packs because the focus was on-premise. Now, there’s a greater focus on the off-premise environment, which brings logistics management and sustainability concerns. The pandemic drove up transport costs and delivery time, and volumes moved from ‘just in time’ back to stocking up, leading producers to look for ways to reduce space and transport costs, so new forms of packaging are gaining ground.”

Turn in to Bold Predictions 2023 wine industry leadership conference on February 8, 2023, 9 am – 12 pm PST for three free sessions with expert advice and predictions for 2023 that can help your business flourish.

  • International Bulk Wine and Spirits Show