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Archive for the ‘Wine’ Category

Crushing the Stigma of Canned Wine

September 12th, 2017 by Dean Ricker

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

Nielsen announced earlier this year that sales of canned wine increased from $6.4 million to $14.5 million in 2016, a whopping 125 percent jump. The same report notes that canned wine dollar sales soared 170 percent, versus a six percent increase in the more established box wine business for the same period. Melanie Virreira, marketing team leader for Ball Corporation in North and Central America, attributes the growth in canned wine consumption primarily to millennials, who continue to break patterns all over the alcohol beverage map. “What’s driving wine in can growth today is the combination of consumer trends and recognition of can advantages and capabilities,” Virreira attests. “We have a new wave of younger drinkers who are very receptive to new packaging types and unconcerned with the traditional ways of consuming their favorite beverage. Ultimately, they want to drink wine and they are asking for a package that allows them to do that where they want to and how they want to.” It’s worth noting that wine in cans is not a new concept. In 2000, Francis Ford Coppola broke ground in the industry by launching the popular Sofia Minis; sparkling wine in a can, complete with an attached pink sipping straw. Other wineries followed suit and the canned wine revolution continued. This past year, Coppola’s winery released three new versions of its well-known Diamond brand wines in cans: the Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc. According to Jennifer Leitman, Coppola’s Senior Marketing VP, the growth in canned wine and response to the newest Diamond wine in cans has been “amazing,” which she chalks up to businesses successfully tracking and responding to contemporary lifestyles. “Our industry isn’t immune to larger trends,” Leitman notes. “People take their music, their entertainment, their food, their phone … everywhere. Computers are a great example. From giant desktop computers, to laptops, to smartphones and tablets. They’re getting smaller and more portable. You can work from about anywhere now … why not drink wine in more places too? Blending experiences together is big.”Virreira and Leitman will be bringing their insights and perspectives about the canned wine industry to the 2017 WIN Expo, taking place at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, CA on November 30, in a conference session called “Canned Wine: Crushing the Stigma by Raising the Quality.” Virreira will be moderating the session and Jim Doehring, Founder of Backpack Wine Co. and Ashley Sebastionelli, President and Co-Founder of Lucky Clover Packaging will join Leitman on the panel. For more information and registration, go to: wineindustryexpo.com.

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How to Package Sustainability

August 8th, 2017 by Jason Snow

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

Wineries and vineyards have worked for years to adopt more sustainable winemaking and grapegrowing practices, but the packaging that protects wine during its trip from winery to consumer is of equal importance. From closure origins to recycled paper stock and bottle weight, winery staff make dozens of decisions that affect the sustainability of wine packaging before the materials are even ordered. Next month, Allison Jordan, executive director of the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, will lead a panel of winery supply chain and marketing professionals in a discussion about how to find the most sustainable packaging options to meet your brand’s needs. The event is part of the Wines & Vines Packaging Conference taking place Aug. 16 at the Lincoln Theater in Yountville. Joining Jordan on stage will be Ramon Ware, vice president of supply chain for Wente Family Estates; Rhonda Motil, vice president of marketing for J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, and Mimi Gatens, marketing manager at Trefethen Vineyards. The group will tackle the subjects of light-weighting bottles, alternative packaging, closure options and the value of printing sustainable certification logos on labels. With a combined 226 years in business between them, the panelists’ three wineries prove how sustainability is a key element to success in business. Wente, for example, uses only recycled cardboard and works with soy- and water-based inks. J. Lohr recycles its packaging and operational materials including shrink wrap and wood pallets, and Trefethen was an early participant in the wine-in-kegs movement. The “How to Package Sustainability” session is just one part of the all-day Wines &amp Vines Packaging Conference. Other topics include a panel on making bottling day run more smoothly. Steve Lamoureux of The Nielsen Co. will reveal the results of a consumer-research study conducted exclusively for the conference to reveals real-life impressions of wine packaging redesigns. More sessions involve restaurant and retail wine buyers offering opinions about what sells and what doesn’t when it comes to wine packaging and consumers. The event will feature other opportunities such as free consultations with designers and the chance to vote for finalists of the Packaging Design Awards. To learn more about the conference and register, visit wvpack.com. As you prepare for harvest, make sure to check our Skolnik sustainable options for Stainless Steel Wine barrels at www.skolnikwine.com.

Good News for Lodi Vitners and Growers

July 11th, 2017 by Dean Ricker

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

In the most recent issue of Wines and Vines, we learned that vintners and growers heard a lot of good news during an industry symposium in Lodi, where speakers said the region’s wines are enjoying a better reputation for quality and are selling well at national grocery chains. Growers in the Lodi AVA and northern San Joaquin Valley, however, are still being paid less than what one might expect given how Lodi appellation wines are doing in the market. Those wines are commanding around $10 per bottle on average, and using the simple “times 100” rule of thumb for grape prices, one would assume the price wineries pay per ton for Lodi grapes is close to $1,000. But averages for state grape District 11 came in at $516 for Chardonnay, $683 for Cabernet Sauvignon and $735 per ton for Zinfandel in 2016, according to the California Grape Crush Report. Jeff Bittner, vice president of operations for Allied Grape Growers, said grape prices have stayed flat because of “anemic” sales growth of wines priced between $7 and $10 per bottle. And while wineries selling wines priced more than $10 have enjoyed robust growth (48.6 million cases in 2013 to an estimated 62 million in 2016) they also enjoyed a string of exceptionally large harvests. Bittner said that excess inventory now has flowed through the market, and there isn’t much opportunity for significant new plantings in the coastal regions. ‘Trickle down’ effect on grape sourcing Three or four years ago, large wineries could count on the southern San Joaquin Valley as a reliable source of cheap grapes on the spot market to fill any gaps for Chardonnay and red blend programs as well as other varietals. Today, many of those vineyards have been ripped out in favor of almonds, which show no sign of becoming less lucrative any time soon. “That’s going to open up more demand in the coast for Lodi,” Bittner said. “It’s kind of a trickle-down effect.” These changing conditions may mean that wineries will turn to Lodi to fill out their premium-priced wine programs or switch some brands to California-appellation wines, and growers could see their grapes fetching prices closer to what Lodi AVA wine prices suggest they should be. “Lodi is in a unique position to provide a reliable supply of grapes, including those for above $10-per-bottle wines,” he said. “We see buyers coming in to Lodi…looking to supplement programs. That’s starting to happen and I think it’s going to be a trend we see more and more of in the coming years.” Bittner offered his analysis of the market during the second annual Lodi Vineyard & Wine Economics Symposium, which is organized by the Wine Industry Symposium group. Wine Business Monthly, which is part of the Wine Communications Group along with Wines & Vines, is the owner of the symposium group.
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Rising Napa Grape Prices are a Concern

June 13th, 2017 by Dean Ricker

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

In the latest issue of Wines and Vines we learn that prices for Napa County Cabernet Sauvignon have always been exceptional when compared to prices paid for wine grapes from other regions of California and for other varieties, but they are getting so high it’s of some concern to industry experts. “Any land that’s in Napa Valley, in the watershed of the Napa River, that can be planted to Cabernet and produce a good crop of Cabernet is being planted today, and they can make a call and sell the fruit for $5,000, $6,000 $7,000,” said Tony Correia, president of the real estate appraisal and consultancy firm The Correia Co. Correia was speaking at the 22nd annual Vineyard Economics Seminar held May 24 in Napa. During his presentation, Correia showed a photo of a sign posted in a Rutherford, Calif., vineyard touting 20 tons of Cabernet grapes for sale. Such a scene would be unimaginable in today’s tight market for Napa Cabernet, but Correia was pointing out that it wasn’t that long ago when the market for high-end wine had shrunk due to the 2008 recession. Since 2010, however, the price graph for Napa Cabernet has been almost straight up, as consumer demand for premium wines has rebounded in a major way. The average price per ton for Napa Cabernet was $2,000 in 1995, and it was nearly $7,000 by 2016. The average dropped from $5,000 to $4,000 between 2009 and 2010 but bounced back by 2011. Nat DiBuduo, president of the Allied Grape Growers (AGG) also said the market for luxury grapes is particularly strong and even rhetorically asked about a bubble, pondering, “How high is too high?” before quickly adding, “I shouldn’t be saying that.” DiBuduo’s interest is in seeing AGG’s members receive good prices, but he admitted to some concern about sustaining such a market at the highest price points. He also mentioned there has been “great” Sauvignon Blanc in Napa County ripped out for Cabernet Sauvignon and expressed a concern that some appellations might be in jeopardy of becoming mono-varietal. “I haven’t seen prices like this in my 17 years,” he said. “There’s got to be a point here where we have to have balance for both the winery and the grower.” DiBuduo said AGG is projecting California’s 2017 harvest to come in around 4.2 million tons, and the group believes the state’s wine grape yields will stay around that level into 2019. He said the overall market is balanced, but in the long term wine consumption is poised to outpace vineyard development. California added about 15,000 acres of vines in 2017, and the development is almost exclusively in coastal regions, Lodi or the Delta. “I don’t know of any grapes being planted in the San Joaquin Valley anymore,” DiBuduo said. “In fact, you’re seeing the complete opposite in that grapes are being pulled out of the San Joaquin Valley.” Based on burn permit data, growers have removed nearly 25,000 acres of wine grape vineyards since 2015 and will pull another 10,000 acres by the 2017 harvest. Most of the vineyards in California support the production of wines priced at more than $10 per bottle, and that number is growing, while the acreage supporting wines priced less than $7 is shrinking. Allied projects that by 2019, acres supporting higher priced wines will increase by 10% to 262,933, while vineyards for lower priced wines will decline by 7% to 182,212 acres.