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The Power of Data: Transforming Winery Strategies for Growth


Make better decisions with a 360° view of the wine industry and your customers

By Laurie Wachter


“2023 was really a difficult year for wine, and 2024 will be a pivotal year for the future of this category,” says industry expert Dale Stratton, managing director of Azur Associates, who brings more than 35 years of experience leading the insights team for beer, wine and spirits at Constellation Brands. “If we don’t see a reversal of the 2023 trends in 2024, it’s going to indicate more systemic problems,” he notes.  

Danny Brager

“The business is down, with more headwinds than tailwinds right now,” agrees Danny Brager, “but I always try to find and share the regions, price tiers or varieties that are trending positive.” As the owner of Brager Beverage Alcohol Consulting, he applies decades of analyzing industry data to provide wineries with insights.  

Data has increasingly become an integral part of marketing and outreach for all industries — and wine is no exception. By asking pointed questions and gathering available information about consumer habits, wineries can reimagine their business models and develop products and experiences that attract new customers.

Gaining More Value from Customer Behavior

“The wine category needs to get more aggressive about bringing in more consumers,” says Stratton. “In 2021, we were still not traveling [due to COVID-19], and it was easy to spend money on luxury goods such as high-end wines and tequilas. Now, a gallon of milk is a lot more expensive than it was, and so is eating out. So consumers may be drinking their wine cellar instead of expanding it.”

Mary Jo (MJ) Dale believes that better, more granular data can help wineries find the best way to acquire, retain and increase customer spend. Dale founded Customer Vineyard to provide advanced analytics to wineries with more comprehensive data. Dale integrates a winery’s customer data with a variety of other data sources, including that from partner Sovos ShipCompliant, to provide a 360-degree view of a winery’s customers, their lifestyles and their values.

MJ Dale

“In a hyper-competitive and well-built wine industry that’s now national, waiting for people to come to our tasting rooms is not the only way to do business,” says Dale. 

Instead, she is helping large and small wineries use data to refine their marketing spend. As a result, they can not only make the most of the untapped potential of every customer and prospect but also create in-market experiences in the best markets for their brand, style, varieties and price points. 

Seeing the Big Picture

Brager reinforces Dale’s approach to data, “The one thing I’ve come to know in the alcohol industry is that, if you rely on only one data source, you’re not getting the big picture.” 

Dale Stratton, Managing Director / Azur Associates

Stratton adds that the wine industry needs to take a step back and recognize that it is a mature category. “We spent 20 years as a growth category and, while the retailer will still love our category, we’ve now hit the point that we’re just not going to grow as fast as we [did] before.”

Lawson Whiting, CEO of Brown-Forman, said on a recent earnings call, “The last few years have been some of the most volatile and complex in my 26 years in the spirits industry, with a variety of factors creating noise within the system. This can make it hard at times to distinguish between short-term headwinds and long-term trends.”

Where to Learn More

Understanding market trends and where they will lead can be confounding, even to experts such as Stratton, Brager and Dale. But the trio will tackle such topics when they team up for  the “Data-Driven Insights: Sales Trends and Predictions” session at the Wine Sales Symposium on May 24 in Santa Rosa, Calif. 

“We’ll share the freshest data available at the session and cover the gamut of where people sell wine,” says Brager, “from DtC only to the three-tier system.” 

Expect the panel to cover several aspects that have bearing on where the wine industry is going, including: 

  • Economic factors such as the impact of inflation and higher interest rates, the higher cost of money, continuing supply chain issues and inventory overstocks; 
  • Generational change as younger consumers begin to supersede wine-loving boomers;
  • Social moderation leading to everything from products with lower alcohol by volume (ABV) to lower calories, zero sugar, non-alcoholic, abstinence and Dry January; and
  • Competitive threats from within the beer, wine and spirits industry and also external ones, such as the impact of anti-alcohol messaging on consumers’ choices.

Don’t miss this session’s insights into what’s happening in the wine industry and where it’s likely to go in the future. These three experts will help you better understand the trends and share their perspectives on the future and the tools you’ll need to succeed. 


The 2024 Wine Sales Symposium is a one-day event providing engaging discussions, informative sessions, and valuable networking opportunities, all curated to wineries looking to grow sales and profits. For more information and to register, visit: winesalessymposium.com


Laurie Wachter
Laurie Wachter

Laurie Wachter

Laurie developed her love of analytics and innovation while advising consumer packaged goods companies, including Kraft Foods, PepsiCo and the Altria Group, on consumer and POS data analytics and direct-to-consumer marketing. Today, she writes about the wine, food and beverage industries for a global client base from the Northern California wine country.