Annual Sovos ShipCompliant Direct-to-Consumer Wine Shipping Report shows historic 27% volume growth as buyers valued lower prices and online convenience amid COVID-19 restrictions
(BOSTON) January 25, 2021 – Despite a nationwide pandemic that closed tasting rooms and restricted in-person sales for much of the past year, U.S. wineries shipped more than $3.7 billion worth of wine directly to consumers in 2020, according to the latest Direct-to-Consumer (DtC) Wine Shipping Report from Sovos ShipCompliant and Wines Vines Analytics. By volume, consumers dramatically increased the amount of wine purchased for direct shipment from wineries, leading to the largest single-year increase in annual shipments ever recorded.
However, the record 8.39 million cases of wine shipped to consumers in 2020 – representing a 27% increase over 2019 – came at the cost of lower growth in value for the channel, which comparatively was up only 14.9% over 2019’s $3.2 billion in sales. And as consumers turned to lower-cost varietals, the average price per bottle for DtC shipments dipped by 9.5% to $36.83 per bottle, marking the sharpest-ever annual drop in price reported.
“In 2020, the DtC channel became truly essential for wineries forced to shut down their tasting rooms and pivot from traditional sales due to COVID-19. By volume, DtC orders rapidly increased at the beginning of the pandemic and continued at higher levels throughout the year,” said Larry Cormier, vice president, general manager, Sovos ShipCompliant. “Bucking past trends, value emerged as a key driver of increased sales as wine drinkers flocked to lower-priced wines amid economic uncertainty.”
As a general rule, the varietals and regions with the lowest average price per bottle shipped saw the largest year-over-year increases in volume. For example, the three regions with the lowest average price per bottle shipped – Sonoma, U.S. wineries located outside of the West Coast, and California’s less well-known wine counties, such as Mendocino – accounted for 53.1% of the total volume of wine shipped in 2020.
“Regions with lower-priced wines significantly outperformed the overall DtC market in 2020. However, every region benefited from DtC shipments, which took on newfound importance as a way to make up for lost in-person sales,” said Andrew Adams, editor at Wines Vines Analytics. “While it is encouraging to see growth in the DtC market, we also cannot overlook the huge declines in visitations to wineries and tasting rooms, where the full long-term impact remains to be seen.”
Other notable trends described in the 2021 Direct-to-Consumer Wine Shipping Report include:
- Early pandemic gains translated into sustained DtC momentum in late 2020: The last quarter of 2020 saw a persistent and significant increase in shipments over 2019, with a consistently lower average price per bottle shipped as wine consumers continued their search for value.
- Sonoma saw the biggest volume gains: With 724,076 more cases shipped in 2020, Sonoma wineries were responsible for 40.6% of the entire DtC shipping channel’s volume increase, despite the fact that Sonoma accounts for only 31.6% of the overall volume of DtC shipments. By contrast, the more-expensive regions of Napa Valley and Oregon underperformed the overall wine shipping channel.
- Large wineries continued to gain DtC market share: America’s largest wineries – which ship the lowest priced wines each year, historically – benefited from downward pricing pressure in 2020. These substantial producers saw their average price per bottle shipped decline by 17.3% but shipped 54.7% more wine than in 2019. These large wineries now capture 18.2% of the volume of the entire DtC shipping channel, up from only 5.5% in 2015.
- Cheaper varietals prevailed: Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Blends, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Zinfandel remained the top five most commonly shipped wines in 2020. However, cheaper varietals, such as Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé, Riesling and White Blends, significantly outperformed the channel with volume growth between 32% and 45%. Across all wine types, shipments with an average price per bottle of $30 or less increased by 41.6%.
“Mandatory stay-at-home orders led many consumers to discover the convenience of buying wine online in 2020. Without having to leave their homes and not bound by retail walls’ and shelves’ wine selection, consumers tapped into a wide selection of wines across regions,” said beverage alcohol consultant Danny Brager. “The genie is now out of the bottle. The e-commerce sustained effect is likely to continue into 2021 as more wineries invest in digital marketing and direct-to-consumer shipping to both compensate for restrictions on tourism and in-person visits and to maximize their consumer touch points.”
The Direct-to-Consumer Wine Shipping Report is an annual collaboration between Sovos ShipCompliant and Wines Vines Analytics, examining shipment trends from wineries to U.S. consumers. The proprietary data included is compiled from an algorithm measuring total DtC shipments based on millions of anonymous direct shipping transactions filtered through the ShipCompliant system and paired with Wines Vines Analytics’ comprehensive data on U.S. wineries.
To download the full Direct-to-Consumer Wine Shipping Report and to see more insights and DtC trends, visit dtcreport.com.
Sovos was built to solve the complexities of the digital transformation of tax, with complete, connected offerings for tax determination, continuous transaction control compliance, tax reporting and more. The company supports more than 8,000 customers, including half of the Fortune 500, operating in over 70 countries. Its SaaS products and proprietary Sovos S1 Platform integrate with a wide variety of business applications and government compliance processes. Sovos has employees throughout North America, Latin America and Europe, and is owned by Hg and TA Associates. For more information visit https://www.sovos.com and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.
About Sovos ShipCompliant
Sovos ShipCompliant has been the leader in automated alcohol beverage compliance tools for more than 15 years, providing a full suite of cloud-based solutions to wineries, breweries, distilleries, importers, distributors and retailers to ensure they meet all federal and state regulations for direct-to-consumer and three-tier distribution. ShipCompliant’s solutions reduce risk, lessen the burden of compliance, accelerate bringing products to market and enable revenue growth. With 60 partner integrations, Sovos ShipCompliant leads a robust ecosystem of technology partnerships, enabling powerful complementary solutions. For more information, visit https://www.sovos.com/shipcompliant/ and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.
About Wines Vines Analytics
The Wines Vines Analytics team maintains the wine industry’s most accurate databases and provides data-driven analysis, data, insights and reports to help our clients grow and manage their businesses. For more information visit www.winesvinesanalytics.com.
Chris Shattuck on behalf of Sovos