I am often asked how the craft beer market is affecting the wine business. It’s a good question. The craft beer market has exploded in recent years. What was initially a niche market has extended into a focal point for beer lovers. Stores and restaurants adorn their alcohol selection with craft beers from all over the country in various styles and flavors. The cases of Budweiser, Coors, and the occasional Sierra Nevada no longer dominate the market. While it is still customary to carry some of these well known mass market beers, people are demanding new exciting brews that are often big, hoppy, and high in alcohol. As a result, people are willing to pay a higher price.
It has always been a challenge to get “beer-only drinkers” to begin buying wine. A big part of this was because of price. But now, as craft beer prices climb to around $10 a bottle, the gap towards premium wine shrinks. I am reminded of a story I heard from the Franzia’s, who own Bronco Wine Company, where they received flak for producing Charles Shaw…or as you may know it, “two buck chuck”. Many people in the industry felt that the production of this wine cheapened the outlook of the industry, especially if other producers wanted their wine to be considered “luxury goods”. It wasn’t until years later that many vintners praised Franzia for what he had done; which was getting people to buy wine when they wouldn’t have otherwise because of the price.
Now, the beer industry has created a large social aspect which also benefits the wine industry. Brew pubs have become a hip place to drink, eat and play games. Many breweries have opened their doors to the public for beer tasting and feature food trucks, pizza ovens, and games such as corn hole or shuffle board. And some of these breweries offer a limited selection of wine to appeal to the few wino’s who join.
So, although craft beer has begun to play a bigger role in the alcohol industry, it also provides more opportunity for wine sales. Cheers to beer!....and wine of course.