Oregon wineries see surge in direct-to-consumer sales

Capital Press File Tasting room employee Shannon Wetherell, right, pours wine for Craig Lamponi and Lia Diamond at the Domaine Drouhin winery near Dundee, Ore. A newly released study found that direct-to-consumer wine sales continue to increase.

The U.S. wine industry continues to experience a meteoric rise in direct-to-consumer sales, with Oregon wineries seeing the sharpest increase of all in 2017.

That’s according to an annual report by Wines & Vines magazine and Sovos, a company that makes tax compliance and regulatory reporting software. Together, they have tracked growth in the direct-to-consumer channel since 2010.

Wineries shipped more than 5.78 million cases direct-to-consumer in 2017, valued at $2.69 billion. Both figures show roughly 15 percent annual growth in the sector, outpacing the six-year average of 11 and 12 percent, respectively.

Oregon led all wine-producing regions with a 31 percent gain in direct-to-consumer sales, followed by Washington at 26 percent and Sonoma County, California at 25 percent. Napa County, Calif., remained the leader both in volume and value of direct-to-consumer sales, even after the devastating wildfires that struck the region during harvest in October — the busiest time for tourists.

In Oregon, direct-to-consumer wine shipments have increased 214 percent since 2012, with Pinot noir driving more than half of that volume. The average price per bottle also increased by 2.8 percent, to $39.16.

“Oregon is clearly having its day,” the report states. “Due to larger than average harvests in 2013-2015, along with increased attention from investors, the trade, media and consumers, Oregon’s sales and shipments are flourishing.”

Sally Murdoch, spokeswoman for the Oregon Wine Board, said the news is encouraging to Oregon winemakers.

“This represents a lot of hard work on the part of our producers in an extremely competitive and challenging market,” Murdoch said. “It also shows a lot of successful engagement with consumers with a very sharp focus on what consumers want in the high-end wine sector.”

The Oregon Wine Board’s figures show a similar increase in direct-to-consumer sales, which rose by 63,536 cases in 2016 over 2015. Murdoch said tasting rooms are largely responsible for those increases.

“People really want to get in there, see the people who make the wine and buy,” she said. “It’s very tactile.”

Other details in the 2018 Direct-to-Consumer Wine Shipping Report:

• Direct-to-consumer wine shipping is on pace to top $3 billion in 2018.

• Direct-to-consumer now reflects 10 percent of off-site domestic retail for the wine industry.

• The fall season (September, October and November) represented 35 percent of direct-to-consumer volume for wineries.

• Small wineries (5,000 to 49,999 cases) and very small wineries (1,000 to 4,999 cases) account for 70 percent of direct-to-consumer wine value, though medium-size wineries (50,000 to 499,999 cases) saw the most growth in 2017 both in value and volume.

• Cabernet Sauvignon led all varieties in direct-to-consumer sales, at 29 percent.

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