Wine Talk

Snooth User: Philip James

Who buys wine direct? News report

Posted by Philip James, May 2, 2008.

An interesting article about which winery customers buy wine direct:


Reply by Sung, May 2, 2008.

I'm not too surprised it would be tech savvy people that would be the biggest winery direct consumers. I just think about people in my parents generation who are avid wine drinkers are also afraid to touch the computer, so they aren't as aware of what's out there or how easy it is to order direct.

Reply by larrychandler, May 2, 2008.

It seems logical that tech savvy people would order more online than non-tech savvy people. I don't think many people are afraid to touch the computer anymore, though of those who are, more of them are older than younger.

But older people also tend to be more careful financially, whether they need to save for college for their kids, or for retirement, etc. and may not want to incur the hefty shipping charges that online wine buying requires in most instances.

The Wines and Vines article also mentions that West Coast wine consumers buy a lot more online than East Coast wine consumers. But the article is incorrect in suggesting the reason for this is that most of the East Coast people don't realize they can buy wine from out of state. Many states don't permit it at all (including NJ, MD, PA and a few others). NY and most others that do require wineries to obtain permits, and not all wineries want to. So the choices are far more limited. Also, it costs a lot more for wineries to ship wine to the east coast than to consumers in California. And in NY and NJ, at least, there are some extraordinary wine shops with a terrific selection of imported wine. And you usually can't buy an imported wine directly from the winery.

I would love to see statistics on the breakdown of who buys wine online compared to the same groups of people who buy other items online.

Reply by Philip James, May 2, 2008.

Larry, I'm wondering if the article was biased towards wineries or american wines, as I doubt that East Coast people would order substantially less online. I'd assume any drop in winery / Californian wines would be made up with case purchases of Old World wines from retailers like Zachy's or Wine Library etc.

Reply by larrychandler, May 2, 2008.

It was based on purchases from American wineries, so that is a valid point. I don't know exact numbers, but it seems to me that people in California buy a lot more California wine than people on the east coast. They may not drink any more, but what they drink is more California.

Reply by Mark Angelillo, May 4, 2008.

I try to spread my purchases out between New World and Old World wines. I'm generally keen to sample from as many different wine regions as I am able.

Reply by Philip James, May 4, 2008.

I dont have the numbers in front of me, but I remember having discussions with RBoulanger about how 94% of wine sold in California is made in California, whereas in NY/MA and other North East coast states around 15% (or maybe even 25%) of the wine is imported. Here in NYC people tend to have stronger European roots and there are lots of Italian descendants as well.

Reply by larrychandler, May 4, 2008.

It's also easier to get the really good bottles of California wine here in California. There are many single vineyard wines, reserves, and small batch production wines that never make it out of the state. So people on the East Coast don't always have the opportunity to drink the best that California offers.

But you are right, Philip, in that the tradition on the East Coast is geared more towards European wines. When I started in the wine business many years ago in NY, wine was French (with a nod towards a few good Italian and German wines). If you wanted something from California, there was always "some domestic wine on the bottom shelf against the back wall." That started to change with the famous Paris tasting of the late 1970s.

Reply by Philip James, May 5, 2008.

I worked with an italian wine company for a while and it was interesting to see which states they did best in. It was generally east coast states and states with large italian ancestry: New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Texas, Florida, etc...

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