Direct-to-consumer U.S. shipments from wineries hit a record $4.2 billion in 2021, up 13.4%, according to the 12thannual Direct-to-Consumer Wine Shipping Report.
Combining shipping data from SOVOS ShipCompliant, a firm which ensures industry compliance with federal and state regulations, and winery data from Wines Vines Analytics, the new report concluded that 2021 represented “a return to relative normalcy” after the first pandemic year of 2020, with results resembling “what would have been expected had the pandemic never happened.”
Following record growth in 2020, when wine volume soared 27% and price-per bottle declined by 9.5%, the latest report found just a small volume increase (1.4%, to 8.5 million cases) in 2021 but an “unprecedented” 11.8% jump in price-per-bottle, to $41.16.
In addition to the $4.2 billion generated through ecommerce in 2021, another $4.2 billion could be attributed to carry-out from wineries, putting their entire business of selling directly to consumers -- whether online or in-person -- at $8.4 billion, Andrew Adams, editor of Wine Analytics Report, told the recent Direct-to-Consumer Wine Symposium.
Orders arising from winery visits and wine club memberships are a major element that contributes to wineries’ D2C sales, noted analyst Danny Brager, one of the forces behind the push for a new joint wine industry marketing push. He pointed out that consumers in 2021, compared with 2020, “became far more comfortable visiting wineries in person.”
Incremental sales from both wine clubs and mailing lists benefited from “the newfound emphasis wineries placed on digital marketing,” the report stated, with an “increased investment in time, effort and personnel.”
This trend should continue in 2022 as “the efficiency of digital marketing increases” and “most tech innovations…are aimed at better identifying, accessing and serving the consumer. The combined greater attention to digital sales and increased velocity of implementing consumer-facing technology will also positively impact winery shipments.”
2021’s increased price-per-bottle jived nicely with what could be termed a move by D2C wine drinkers toward “premiumization.”
Price notwithstanding, the types of wine people bought through D2C stayed stable, with “the same five wines that have been most commonly shipped for the past decade” remaining in the top slots: cabernet sauvignon (at 16%), chardonnay, pinot noir, red blends and Zinfandel. Together, those five varietals accounted for 58.9% of all wines shipped in 2021 and 71.8% of all dollar value, the report said.
Napa County, California accounted for 60.3% of the entire D2C wine industry’s value increase in 2021, with that region’s shipments up $299 million – to nearly $2 billion total. But Oregon wineries rose most, up 12.9% in volume and 18.7% in shipments.
On the other end of the shipping pipeline, a Kentucky law that finally allowed residents to buy wines through ecommerce went into effect in December 2020, with 12 months of ecommerce availability in 2021 increasing the state’s shipment volume by 244.8% over the single month of availability in 2020.
The number of wineries themselves increased 2.5% in 2021, to 11,282 locations total, Adams said at the recent symposium.
The Direct-to-Consumer Wine Shipping Report analyzed anonymized, detailed direct-to-consumer shipment data from more than 1,300 U.S. wineries, totaling more than 42 million shipments during 2021.