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Wine Clubs and the Wine Industry - Adjusting the Stereotypes of Wine Enthusiasts in America

Kent Campbell

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If you think American men only guzzle beer and women only enjoy cocktails, think again. In addition, if you think beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage in America, this article has a surprise for you. Today, Americans consume more wine than beer, and women purchase more wine than men do. More women also belong to a wine of the month club. As times have changed, these stereotypes require some adjusting too so that winemakers, wine clubs, and retailers can realize the importance of marketing to women. This article shows the new stereotype for wine drinkers in America. In addition, it discusses how women are changing the face of winemaking, both as winemakers and as consumers.

Merrill Research & Associates found in a recent study that Americans have increased their wine consumption for the last eleven years straight. This also includes wine consumption from an increase in wine of the month club memberships. This study proves that wine is extremely popular in America and more and more people are enjoying it every day through retailers, restaurants, and wine clubs. The per capita consumption of wine is now 2.77 gallons per year. An elite group referred to as “core wine drinkers" by the wine industry, only makes up 13.7% of the population, but they drink 87% of the wine consumed in America, 703 million gallons worth per year. With a $26 billion retail value, the wine business is booming, and both foreign and domestic wine producers and retailers are salivating at the opportunity that this potential market presents.

A surprise to many, The San Francisco Wine Institute recently reported that women, who make up 52% of the population in America, purchase 55% of the wine consumed. Until this report, retailers, wine clubs, restaurants, the wine press, and even wineries failed to notice this huge market, but since the report, they are all paying close attention now. The report showed that women are less influenced by wine ratings and scores and are more focused on the quality of the wine, the design of the label, the shape of the bottle, recommendations from a wine of the month club, and the philosophy of the winery. Winemakers are now appealing to women more in the marketplace.

Not only are women buying more wine, but more women are making wine too. In 1990, 10% of California winemakers were women. Today, the figure has doubled with more women practicing the art of winemaking and running wineries. Women have also assumed leadership roles in the wine industry. For example, in 1990, Dianne Nury, president of Vie Del Company, became the first woman to chair The San Francisco Wine Institute since its establishment in 1934. Two other prominent California wine trade associations, Sonoma County Wineries Association and Napa Valley Vintners, both elected women as board presidents for the first time in 1998. Today, women continue in leadership roles as they also take lead roles in sales, marketing, and distribution. Women are also starting wine clubs and are becoming sommeliers in increasing numbers, a position traditionally held by men.

If you're a winemaker, wine of the month club, restaurateur, or wine retailer, keep these figures in mind and don't overlook women when it comes to making or selling wine. Times have changed when it comes to wine in America, and by adjusting the stereotype of women only enjoying cocktails, everyone wins.

Kent Campbell is a co-author for Celebrations Wine Club in collaboration with Anna Maria Knapp. Celebrations Wine Club is a reputed wine of the month club, and one of the few wine clubs offering the best wines for over 18 years.


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