Following the January release of our annual Direct-to-Consumer Wine Shipping Report in partnership with Wines Vines Analytics, consumers continue to make changes in how they get their wine. With the economy still working to rebound in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, ecommerce sales have remained important. On-premise locations, including bars, restaurants and tasting rooms, are once again opening back up to full capacity, but consumers have realized that DtC shipping is a convenient, choice-filled option for purchasing wine.
Comparing numbers from January 1, 2021 to June 30, 2021 with the same six-month period in 2020, volume growth was minimal but both value and bottle price were up. This is largely due to the period in 2020 seeing unusually high growth, with demand driven by pandemic lockdowns. The DtC channel saw 4.09 million cases shipped in overall volume, an increase of 1.9%, with notable differences between months. The months before the vaccine was widely available (Q1) each realized double digit growth in volume over 2020. April and May both saw decreases of 13%, but June grew 4%. Again, this is mainly due to March, April and May 2020 seeing significant pandemic-driven growth, making it difficult to match and/or exceed those numbers.
Overall DtC shipment value increased by 12.2%, for a total of $1.89 billion. Every month showed an increase over last year, with January the strongest at 20.9%, followed by June, February and March (17.6%, 16.8%, and 16.5% respectively). April was slower at 4.6% and May was close behind at 4.0% year-over-year growth.
Average bottle price climbed 10.1%. By comparison, the first half of 2020 saw average price per bottle down 10.8% versus 2019. Specifically, the first half of 2020 average bottle price was $34.98, while in 2021 it was $38.50.
Following is a deeper dive on the DtC shipping channel since January.
The top five destination states for the first half of 2021, in descending volume order, were California, Texas, New York, Florida and Washington. All of those states saw volume growth over last year. Despite growing volume by 3.4% year-over-year, Washington dipped from fourth place to fifth. Florida’s volume increased by 10%, pushing its ranking from sixth to fourth. Pennsylvania experienced a year-over-year decrease in volume (-16.9%) and fell from the fifth spot to sixth.
Newly opened (as of December 2020) Kentucky is ramping up in 2021. The Bluegrass State received almost 2,200 cases in the first quarter and 4,100 cases in the second quarter. Kentucky ended the first half of the year with $1.9 million in value shipped to the state.
Winery location (regions)
Notably, only Oregon increased volume shipped DtC every month for the first six months of 2021. While January and February were strong months across the board, all other regions saw decreases in April and May. However, value over all six months increased in every region, with especially strong growth in Oregon (21.3%), Central Coast (19.2%) and Napa (13.5%) regions, but there was not a consistent pattern across regions.
By volume, Sonoma County is the leading region, accounting for 2.8 million cases of wine in the past 12 months or 33% of the entire DtC channel. Sonoma County wineries also saw the largest volume increase, 20%, compared to last year.
Winery size (production)
The first half of 2021 saw the largest wineries (those producing 500,000 or more cases) with the largest volume growth at 9.7%, along with value growth of 10.9%. Medium-sized wineries (those in the 50,000-499,000 annual case production range) fared the worst in both value and volume: Volume decreased by 14.9% and value was flat year-over-year, a perhaps unsurprising retreat given the difficulty of sustaining the massive shipment levels driven by the pandemic during the same period in 2020. Other winery sizes saw between 10.9% and 16.6% value growth.
After large wineries, the biggest increase in volume was among small wineries, those in the 5,000-49,999 case production range, at 8.4%. This is followed by the very small wineries tier (1,000-4,999 case production), which increased by 5.6%. Finally, the very limited winery size category (<1,000 cases) decreased in volume by 4.1% (landing at 81,418 cases), but this segment is still leaps and bounds ahead of 2019 (55,012 cases).
For the first half of 2021, Red Blends, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir combined made up more than 50% of total wine volume shipped DtC, with $1.24 billion in value.
Sparkling enjoyed the largest year-over-year increase in both volume (up 30.3%) and value (up 41.1%), and accounted for 3.8% of total volume shipped. Cabernet Franc saw the second highest value growth at 28.7%, and Riesling was third at 24.9% year-over-year. Moscato and Pinot Grigio were the only varietals to decrease in value; they each decreased in volume as well.
Average bottle price
Average bottle price grew 10.1% overall in the first half of 2021. Central Coast saw the biggest increase (39.1%, or an $11.13 increase) reaching $39.57. Napa regained lost ground on bottle price, landing at $66.58, which is a few cents above the 2019 average price per bottle. Sonoma was the only region with overall decreased bottle price, ending the first half of the year at $26.58, which is a few cents lower than the same period in 2020. Oregon crossed the $40 mark for the first time, hitting an average price per bottle of $41.15.
What’s next for DtC wine shipping?
It’s impossible to precisely predict what will happen over the next six months and beyond with DtC wine shipping. The COVID-19 pandemic forced many wineries, producers, shippers and customers to pivot their approaches. Some of the changes will stick, while others will have only been temporary. Stay tuned for the full report on 2021 coming in January 2022. In the meantime, for a complete 2020 picture, download your complimentary copy of the 2021 Direct-to-Consumer Wine Shipping Report.
This data was compiled in partnership with Wines Vines Analytics, a leading source for wine industry data.
Our data partnership with Nielsen and Wines Vines Analytics makes possible the most complete category coverage, trends and insights with off-premise coverage, Nielsen retail sales and DtC shipments data all in one place. Learn more.
Want a comprehensive look at the DtC wine shipping channel in 2020? Download the 2021 DtC Wine Shipping Report today.