My Wine Predictions for 2009

by Tim Elliott on January 1, 2009

Photo by Charyn Pfeuffer

Photo by Charyn Pfeuffer

A couple years ago I made 8 bold predictions for 2007. I decided to sit last year out after only the most obvious of the eight actually came to pass (increasing direct to consumer wine sales). But some progress was made on the list in 2008 with Tyler Colman, a.k.a Dr. Vino truly “going pro” with the publication of not one, but 2 wine books. Not to mention the entire Gary Vaynerchuk story which played out in a big way since I made that prediction. Some of my other predictions also made some progress toward fulfillment so I’m going to add six more for 2009 today.

The Year of Value – This prediction is really not that much of a stretch since the world economic downturn has made it a lot more challenging for wine producers to sell higher priced wines. Anything above $25 a bottle will be a tough sell in this environment with a lot of competition for consumers in the $10-15 price category. Look for some producers to just lower their pricing while others, such as Cameron Hughes, Mark West and Castle Rock, will be perfectly positioned to gain market share. 2009 is the year of extreme value that might also spark more interest in wine auctions as consumers look to maximize their purchasing power.

Wineries Really Go Direct – More wineries are exploiting direct to consumer sales and I expect to see a lot more growth in this area particularly for higher priced brands. The economics of direct sales and shipping will be a major advantage for wineries who can create enough pull with consumers. With wine tourism down due to the recession, I see the winners being those who create this pull online via ecommerce and, increasingly, a social media presence.

Yellow + Blue MalbecAlternative Packaging – As wine lovers become more concerned about the carbon footprint of their favorite beverage, more will look for wine packaged in bag-in-box or TetraPaks. As I’ve blogged here in the past, I hope to see better quality wines in these packages particularly those wines intended for immediate consumption.

Wine 2.0 Will Produce A Star – I’ve written about the intersection of Web 2.0 and wine for some time now but there has not been a breakout success story yet. This year will produce at least one star who will finally validate this space. My money is on Snooth right now but this could change as the year progresses. Stay tuned for a lot more on this subject here soon.

Wine Media Goes Digital -The traditional glossy wine magazines such as Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast will be forced to rethink their print business model this year and go more digital. I still think there will be the same amount of wine publications produced but the ones that are left will have figured out how to make money from their online presence and not just by print advertising sales. Of all of these magazines, Wine Spectator is the best positioned to flip the switch, open up their subscription site and become supported by their online advertising inventory. But I don’t expect to see them do this because they will see too much short-term risk in their current, but doomed, business model. 2009 will be a great year for new entrants trying to figure out this territory like Mutineer.

Americans Drink Less Wine At Lower Price Points – This prediction is linked with my first one but I think it’s important to note that the wine market in the U.S. will not grow as it has in the past. Not only will consumers drink less wine they will trade down to lower priced selections. With the U.S. dollar increasing in value, this will make imports more attractive especially from the Old World where vineyard land is a long sunk cost.

So there you have it; six bold predictions for 2009. I’ll revisit these in June and again in December to see what really happened.

Which ones do you think are right, dead wrong or what did I miss?

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  • http://www.lusciouslushes.com winebratsf

    Well said! It's all about good wine for a good value. The economy is impacting even those who thought they were immune and as a result, retailers / wineries are having to make changes.

    Social media marketing is one source, value brands are another.

    Looking forward to great values in 09!

  • http://www.twittertastelive.com Chris Gillis

    Great Post Tim…I agree on all fronts, it will be interesting to take a look back next New Years and see what happened.

    Chris

  • http://www.snooth.com Philip James

    Tim – thanks for the vote of confidence. We'll be here, doing our thing throughout 2009 – fingers crossed we'll rock it.

    Happy new year
    Philip

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/winecast winecast

    Thea & Chris: Thanks for your comments. 2009 will indeed be the year of value wine.

    Philip: I really think Snooth is well positioned to breakout this year. My concern/hedge was based on the difficult environment ahead for VC backed firms. I'm sure you are doing everything you can to manage your burn rate but no one is out of the woods until break-even.

  • http://blog.vintuba.com ChrisO-Vintuba

    Tim, I look forward to seeing how your predictions play out, I think you are right on many of your predictions. I am most interested in the wine 2.0, social media and direct shipping arenas, will be interesting to see which of the pioneers become the settlers.
    I wish you and Winecast.net continued success in 2009.

    Cheers,

    ChrisO (vintuba.com)

  • http://domaine547.com Jill

    Value all the way (or FTW as the kids say)…

  • http://chicagopinot.blogspot.com Chicago Pinot

    "2009 is the year of extreme value that might also spark more interest in wine auctions as consumers look to maximize their purchasing power."

    Maybe I missed your point here, but extreme value and wine auctions don't seem to go together. Aren't auctions for much higher priced wine and a clientele that is beyond worrying about their purchasing power?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/winecast winecast

      Douglas: You are right that I didn't explain this thought very well… I think consumers will still buy higher priced bottles for special occasions but will be looking for the best value. Auctions present the opportunity to buy aged wines at reasonable prices. If you look in the back of any auction catalog you will see case lots of $25-30 wines. There are also some good values to be had at sites like Wine Commune and WineBid.

      Perhaps I'll expand this into a longer post; thanks for you comment.

      • http://www.ourwinestory.com Dylan

        Thanks for that clarification on the matter, I was about to ask the same.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/AgentRed AgentRed

    Tim,

    We love your insight and wisdom. Great predictions.

    In our little corner of the wine world, we have seen only growth in the $25-and-up category. Double-digit growth, in fact. We think that wine drinkers are shunning restaurant wine purchases and moving up-market when buying wines from us. Folks are either staying home and enjoying a better quality of wine (for less) or, they are paying corkage fees and STILL saving money.

    As for who the breakout star of 2009 will be? Hopefully it'll be The Wine Spies!

    Top Secret regards,

    Agent Red

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/winecast winecast

      Best of luck with that, Red; hope to write that you are a breakout success at year-end.

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