The Final Word: Too Many Wine Labels?

January 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

It is not my role to judge whether there are too many wine brands on the market. As a consumer, I like variety and as the CEO of Winemetrics, wine brands and their distribution are the source of our business. However, there are some statistics every wine professional should be aware of, especially brand managers who might think a new varietal/appellation/designation in an existing brand or a new sub-brand will be beneficial in building  awareness or improving sales.  First, the number of California wineries has more than doubled from 2000 to 2009 as have the total number of wineries in the U.S.  There are now nearly 3000 wineries in California and more than 6700 wineries throughout the country.

Second, in terms of distinct labels, there has been a steady rise of COLAs (Certificate of Label Applications) approved since 2000, from about 51,000 that year to nearly 98,000 in 2009, according to the TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau).

Now overlay the above information with the findings of Constellation Brands’ Project Genome, which reports on the purchasing behavior of 10,000 premium wine consumers. According to this research, 68% of wine consumers representing 51% of total wine consumption are typically buying brands they know and trust. And nearly a quarter of wine consumers, which the study classifies as “Overwhelmed”, simply find the variety of choices excessive and will often choose not to buy any wine if the process is too confusing.

Given the above evidence, one has to question the value of introducing additional labels or sub-brands if all it accomplishes is merely adding more confusion to an already bewildered customer base.

One final piece of data from Winemetrics’ 2010 On-Premise Wine Distribution Report.  In 2010, the top 100 brands accounted for 54% of distribution on-premise  and the top 200 brands accounted for nearly 70%.  More commentary of Project Genome to follow.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

January 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

In a previous entry,  I outlined ten steps to improving wine list profitability and also provided statistics on the relatively low percentage of restaurants, surveyed by Winemetrics, following one or more of these practices. Normally, in this section of our newsletter, I feature a restaurant chain or group that is providing their customers with easy access to wine information as well as a diverse selection of wines by region, variety and serving sizes. Essentially, those attributes that will attract the high-value wine consumer.  This week I had hoped to profile Palomino, a 10-unit chain which is part of the Restaurants Unlimited group; it was one of the highest rated upscale-casual American restaurants in our 2010 Chain Restaurant Report.

Naturally, when possible, I attempt to confirm the chain’s web presence, wine list format, pricing etc. prior to publishing a report in Winemetrics’ newsletter. A previous visit in July, 2010 at their Dallas location revealed an extensive wine list with 2 and 4 oz. pours, 6 wines by the half-bottle, 25 wines by the glass and the entire wine list available on the dinner and lunch menu, a fact that could be confirmed on Palomino’s very efficient website.  In the interceding 6 months, the website has been redesigned, still efficient, but there is no wine on the dinner menu or the lunch menu. In fact, there is no mention of wine anywhere on Palomino’s website, except on a Happy Hour menu where two inexpensive wines by the glass are mentioned.

This apparent reversal by Palomino seems inexplicable.  In the age of, where a restaurant’s menu is just a click away from deciding whether a reservation is made, is seems illogical that a restaurant would choose to provide less information, not more, about what they offer potential customers.   

In addition to the statistics quote in Winemetrics’ previous newsletters, here is more relevant restaurant customer behavior information that should be considered prior to a menu or website redesign. (courtesy of

–          89% of consumers say they have researched a restaurant prior to dining there

–          Of those consumers that have researched a restaurant online, 57% indicated that prior to selecting a restaurant, they view the restaurant’s website.

–          Using the Internet to check out menus and other information about a restaurant is most prevalent among consumers aged 25 to 45

Top 25 Producers On-Premise 2009 vs. 2010

January 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

Here is more information from our newly released On-Premise Wine Distribution Report.

Top 25 Producers On-Premise 2009 vs. 2010
2009   2010
Producer Rank Producer
Beringer 1 Chateau Ste. Michelle
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2 Beringer
Kendall-Jackson 3 Kendall-Jackson
Clos du Bois 4 Estancia
Estancia 5 Sutter Home
Ecco Domani 6 Penfolds
Sterling 7 Blackstone
Sutter Home 8 Ecco Domani
Coppola, Francis 9 Clos du Bois
Columbia Crest 10 Coppola, Francis
Penfolds 11 Banfi, Castello
Blackstone 12 Sonoma-Cutrer
Beaulieu Vineyard 13 Ravenswood
J. Lohr 14 Antinori
Mondavi Private Selection 15 Columbia Crest
Ravenswood 16 Sterling
Antinori 17 Ruffino
Sonoma-Cutrer 18 Cakebread
Mirassou 19 J. Lohr
Ruffino 20 Mondavi Private Selection
Cavit 21 Santa Margherita
Ferrari-Carano 22 Cavit
Rosemount Estate 23 La Crema
Yellow Tail 24 Caymus
Caymus 25 Stags’  Leap Winery

2010 ‘Hot’ Varieties on Restaurant Wine Lists

January 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

Winemetrics has just published its 2010 On-Premise Wine Distribution Report. Here is a list of the top ‘hot varieties’ based on percentage growth of overall listings. Our sample includes over 800 accounts from 175+ restaurant chains and multi-concept restaurant groups.

2010 ‘Hot’ Varieties

Variety                 % Increase

Torrontes            1267%

Nero d’Avola       374%

Carmenere            126%

Albarino                 104%

Malbec                     75%

Chenin Blanc          63%

Where Am I?

You are currently viewing the archives for January, 2011 at Wine Lists USA.