Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Rose of Sharon, Part 2

The Rose of Sharon is a family of flowering bushes which may not be family at all.  One of the old Hebrew words in the name could be translated as either "pungent" or "splendid", so with that kind of uncertainty in its origins, it's possible none in the common field is the actual Rose of Sharon from the bible.  So, relating to the preceding post, this is my metaphor du jour for the state of the commercial wine industry today, where names for wines lose their meanings because styles diverge so much from the original.

This post, by the way, is also the third of a series about the largest wine companies in America.  We first covered this territory on May 4th of '12 and then again on January 15th of '13.  Each report shows subtle movements on the list of the thirty largest companies as reported by Wine Business Monthly (  This time instead of listing them all, let's look at larger truths and trends.

There are 7,500 wine companies in America today.  With each annual list of the biggest players, the top three stay the same.  Gallo is always number one by a huge margin followed by either The Wine Group or Constellation.  Citing two different industry sources, these three companies sell between 172 and 184 million cases of wine domestically a year with a comparable amount sold abroad also.

Half of all domestic wine sales are done by these three largest wine companies and the thirty largest wine companies account for ninety percent of all wine sales in America. 

In our last report on this subject we noted the presence of companies that had no history to reference in the wine industry, i.e., private labellers for chain stores and virtual wineries on a grand scale.  Last year organic wines impacted the wine company list for the first time also.  This year it's sweet wines that are factoring into the numbers in a big way and it's the millenial generation that is credited with their popularity.

DFV has been a fave here at V&C for some time now.  They seem to value quality at affordable price points moreso than others.  They are the mega-wine company with the greatest growth (28%) this time, driven by Bota Box wines and, in particular, Handcraft varietals which increased sales by 5000%!  DFV moved from eleventh on the list to eighth in the most recent sales figures.

Please join us this Friday between 5 and 8pm as Tommy Basham of Continental Beverage leads us in a tasting of new Italian red blends in the market and if you like this blog, please become a follower here so I don't get discouraged and hang it up!

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