Barefoot Tramples Other Top Wine Brands

Latest Wine Industry Metrics report examines top 20 U.S. wine brands

by Andrew Adams
wine IRI off premise wine sales
San Rafael, Calif.—E. & J. Gallo Winery’s Barefoot wine brand doesn’t just top the list of the top-selling off-premise U.S. wine brands, it’s almost in its own category.

In the past 52 weeks through June, the brand retained the top spot for the 20 leading wine brands, and it was No. 1 through the same period last year.

According to the Chicago-based market-research group IRI, Barefoot’s sales grew 7% to $665 million in the past month. Sales for Sutter Home—the second-largest off-premise brand in the United States—came to $359 million, which is 53% of Barefoot’s total sales.

Barefoot outpaced Sutter Home by the same 2:1 margin in 2015 as well.

It’s not just Barefoot, either, Gallo has four other brands on the top 20 list and accounts for $1.13 billion (or nearly 35%) of the more than $3.2 billion in total sales by the top 20 brands. Constellation Brands Inc. has six brands on the top 20 list, but it’s total sales were $740 million.

Bota Box from Delicato Family had the fastest sales growth rate among the top 20 at 29%, and another bag-in-box brand, Black Box from Constellation, grew by 15%. Constellation also had the fastest shrinking brand, Robert Mondavi Private Selection. Ménage a Trois from Trinchero Family Estates added 12% in sales while raising its price by 34 cents per bottle. This was the biggest price increase among the top 20. Bota Box at No. 19 and Liberty Creek at No. 20 nudged Livingston Cellars and Rex Goliath off the list.

Overall off-premise sales in June grew 5% more than June 2015 and totaled $608 million, while the 12-month total increased by 6% to reach $8.2 billion. Total sales volume in June grew 2.5% to reach 8.4 million cases.

Steady growth for total wine sales
Sales of domestic wine in the domestic market via all channels grew 2% in value in June and 6% in volume, according to BW166. That total includes table wine, sparkling wine and imported bulk wine bottled in the U.S. and sold in on-premise and off-premise channels, including direct to consumer.

The sum was up by $72 million from June 2015 and totaled more than $3.15 billion. During the most recent 12 months, domestic table and sparkling wine increased by 3% over the previous period to $37.2 billion.

Sales of packaged imports and all other wine grew by 6% in 12 months and reached $20.2 billion, according to Jon Moramaco of BW166, a market-research firm.

DtC strong for summer
The value of direct-to-consumer shipments from U.S. wineries grew by 10% in June, which is typically one of the four slowest months of the year for direct shipments.

The 12-month sales total was up by 12%, which was the highest growth rate since September 2015. The 12-month value stayed above $2 billion for the fifth month in a row.

DtC shipments in June increased in value to $100.55 million, according to the Wines Vines Analytics/ShipCompliant model. The volume of DtC shipments by U.S. wineries increased to 290,845 cases in June.

Sonoma County wineries in the past 12 months continued to have their biggest DtC shipment success with Pinot Noir. It garnered a 34% dollar share and brought in 260% more dollars than Cabernet Sauvignon from that region. Two years ago Pinot Noir was only 200% bigger in sales than Cabernet Sauvignon.

Bunched closely behind Cabernet Sauvignon were three varietals with sales between $45 million and $30 million—Chardonnay, Zinfandel and red blends—before sparkling wine in the sixth spot.

The remaining other varietals and types from Sonoma County—from Sauvignon Blanc to Moscato and Syrah—were worth $74 million.

Hiring hits all-time high
The Winery Hiring Index, which is based on postings to winejobs.com, hit an all-time high in June after increasing by 16% for the month of June and 8% for the past 12 months. The index reached 421, its highest point since Winejobs.com established the index at 100 in January 2007.

Hiring activity was strongest in the winemaking subcategory, which grew by 15% in June, and the hospitality subcategory shot up by 46% over the previous June. Sales and marketing job postings increased by just 1%.

Flash offers dip
June saw another drop in the total number of flash offers for domestic wines compared to the previous year. Flash offers fell 2% compared to June 2015, and the 12-month total only increased by 2%.

Some of the leading flash sites have not been making as many offers as during last year. Wine Woot, for example, made about 60 to 70 offers for domestic wines per month in 2015, and so far in 2016 it has been averaging about 40.

As part of a focus on Sonoma County, Wines Vines Analytics found that offers for that county’s wines have decreased by 8%, and flash websites are also offering far fewer Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Offers for the varietal dropped by 36% compared to the previous year, while Pinot Noir offers grew 11%. Pinot Noir is the most popular Sonoma County wine to be offered by flash websites and the varietal accounted for 25% of the 1,517 total offers in the past 12 months ending in June.

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