Study: October fires had little impact on wine industry

A study by the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University concluded the North Bay fires had minimal impact on the local wine industry.

The study found that 99.8 percent of vineyard acres (138,937 out of 139,204 acres) were not affected by the fires. It also found that 93 percent of wineries (950 out of 1,025) did not suffer any structural damage or have any long-term impact to their operations.

Seventy-one percent of respondents said their wineries experienced an immediate drop in tasting room traffic in October compared to the same time in 2016, though it picked up in November.

One positive development was that 75 percent of respondents said their online sales are equal to or higher than the same period last year.

“The most significant impact on the North Coast wine industry was an immediate and temporary slow-down of visitors to the region. We believe this was driven by images and reports at the height of the disaster. Fortunately, the numbers show that this trend has corrected and continues to improve,” said Honore Comfort, the institute’s executive in residence, in a statement.

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DTC business grew last year, report says

A new report has found that direct-to-consumer wine sales grew by 16 percent in 2017.

The study, conducted by Sovos, a tax compliance software manufacturer, and the trade publication Wines & Vines, found that consumers bought $2.7 billion in wine directly from wineries last year. That represented 5.8 million cases in volume and was 10 percent of overall wine sales in the United States.

Oregon wineries had the biggest growth in direct sales in 2017 with a 31 percent increase, followed by Washington state wineries at 26 percent and Sonoma County vintners at 25 percent, according to the study.

Pinot noir replaced red blends as the most popular wine selection shipped to consumers. Pennsylvania broke into the top 10 states for the most wine shipments even though 2017 was the first year that wine could be legally shipped to its state residents.

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Treasury Wine Estates transfers some to Oakland

Treasury Wine Estates, an Australian company with its North American headquarters in Napa, is transferring about 70 employees to new offices in Oakland.

The company, which is the fifth-largest vintner in the country, is primarily moving sales and marketing employees to the new building, said spokesman Brent Dodd. Those employees are typically on travel business assignments, so the new building will allow them easier access Oakland Intentional Airport.

It owns Chateau St. Jean just north of Kenwood as well as St. Clement and Stag’s Leap in Napa County. Sonoma County employees should not be affected, he said.

Treasury Wine Estates is not the only wine company with large North Bay operations to have offices outside the area. Constellation Brands Inc. has a San Francisco office in the Embarcadero.

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Compiled by Bill Swindell. Submit items to bill.swindell@pressdemocrat.com.