It was sunrise the day after Christmas when I captured the picture above from my son’s kitchen window. How appropriate that the morning began with a fresh layer of snow. There is something peaceful about seeing the snow drape the trees. For me, there is no better way to close out 2010.
With 2011 just getting underway, I can’t think of a better time to clear the slate and have a fresh start. This past year has been challenging for the wine industry but there are many positive signs that the economy is moving forward.
I expect to see Napa Valley 2010 wine sales up at least 10% over 2009 but we have a long way to go before we are back to the highs of 2007. Wineries will continue to focus on depleting older vintages as they try to get back to a normal release schedule. With the short harvest in 2008 I expect that many wineries will be able to get back on track by 2012.
Challenges still abound in the California market as wine sales continue to struggle to grow. Like past recessions, California is usually the last to enter the slow down and the last to recover. With the looming state budget deficit and double digit unemployment it may take 3 to 5 years for our economic engine to fire on all cylinders.
Strategies should be focused on boosting your presence in local markets to help support your distributor. The more you can do to help educate the restaurant staff about your wines, the better. The market is crowded with a lot of great choices so getting your wine at the top of a server’s mind is going to take some effort.
Renewed focus on your direct to consumer sales will continue to be an important strategy. As your customers regain confidence and increase their wine purchases, you want to make sure they remember you. Keep your contact with them fresh all year long. It’s time to be creative and to push your hospitality to the next level.
For those folks visiting your winery for the first time what will be their impression? We often forget that many people are visiting the Napa Valley for the first time. Make sure your hospitality team is fresh and go out of their way to help serve your guests. Even if a sale doesn’t happen on that first visit your team is planting impression seeds that have the potential to bear fruit down the road.
Until next time…let this month be your chance for a fresh start to a properous 2011.