Viticulture briefs: Sonoma County wineries increase direct-to-consumer sales

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Sonoma County wineries increase direct-to-consumer sales

Sonoma County wineries sold $655 million in wine last year through direct-to-consumer channels, according to a new survey, representing a 21 percent increase from the previous year.

The average price per bottle was $29.63, according to the report from Sovos, a Boston-based tax compliance firm, and Wine Vines Analytics, a consulting firm in San Rafael.

Napa County wineries had $1.4 billion in such sales, according to the report. That was an 8 percent increase from 2017 with an average bottle price of $66.14.

“Napa County seemingly priced itself out of the market in 2018,” said Chet Klingensmith, publisher and president at Wines Vines Analytics, in a statement. “This may be an early indicator of what’s to come for the whole channel in 2019, as price increases have historically been followed by flat or declining prices the following year.”

Overall, wine consumers bought $3 billion through such shipments from U.S. wineries, which was a 12 percent increase from 2017.

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Sonoma County Vintners to focus on winery permitting

Sonoma County Vintners, the county’s largest winery trade group, will focus on streamlining the permitting process for local wineries as part of its agenda for 2019.

“I can tell you it’s broken,” Executive Director Michael Haney said of the permitting process in Sonoma County. Haney made the comment at the group’s annual meeting on Jan. 22 at Sonoma State University.

Many local wineries have faced opposition from some residents who have protested traffic and noise in their neighborhoods, resulting in long delays for any new or updated permit applications.

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors is set this year to craft a new ordinance to regulate winery events, an effort that was put on hold with the October 2017 wildfires. The board wants to create a definition of winery events and place guidelines for some areas where wineries and tasting rooms are highly concentrated, such as Westside Road and the Sonoma Valley. There are about 500 wineries in Sonoma County.

Late last year, the Napa County Board of Supervisors made some progress with an updated code enforcement program.

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Rombauer Vineyards expands into the Sierra foothills

Rombauer Vineyards in the Napa Valley announced Thursday it had purchased the Renwood Winery facility in Amador County in the Sierra foothills.

The sale includes 20 acres of vineyards, the wine production facility, and tasting room located in Plymouth. No purchase price was disclosed.

The Renwood Winery brand and Renwood Ranch Vineyard will continue to be owned by its existing proprietors, an Argentinian firm.

Rombauer Vineyards has farmed grapes and made wines from the region since the mid-1990s. It owns 148 vineyard acres there, mostly planted to zinfandel in El Dorado County.

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

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