I’ve been getting some inquires privately suggesting that I should be talking about the recently-released State of the Wine Industry 2024 report by Silicon Valley Bank.
But I don’t want to talk about it.
It’s been covered in almost breaking news style across the wine biz since its release, and going into detail about it at this point would be redundant. Many others have already done so, including my friend Jeff Siegel, whose article (titled “A Harsh Pill to Swallow“) about the report for Wine Industry Advisor says everything that need be said about it. Here’s the opening line:
“There is very little good news in this year’s Silicon Valley Bank State of the Wine Industry report.”
I also happen to be friends with just about everyone who was involved in presenting the report when it was officially released. Author Rob McMillan is a friend of mine; Ed Thralls is a friend of mine; Paul Mabray is a friend of mine (all of them are cited in Jeff’s article). So the results of the 2024 version of the report are not news to me.
There are two graphs int he report that tell pretty much the entire story and so I present them without comment:
Frankly, it pisses me off that the wine industry writ large is treating this like it’s breaking news, as if it were the onset of a crisis.
It’s not. We are well into the first stages of the crisis and have been for the better part of a decade. People like me have been railing about it online for almost as long. It’s a sad tale of an industry with its head planted so far into the sand that it’s been seeing daylight from the other side of the globe and pretending a glorious new day has been dawning.
Except, folks like me have been writing about the red flags, talking about them on industry panels, keynote speeches, and referencing them in consulting marketing gigs for years and years and years and basically been told that we’re being too dour.
How are those graphs for “dour,” folks? Pretty f–king dour.
Too much wine, too many plantings, not enough demand and no signs that the industry is doing enough to drum up demand and interest in younger consumers. Things are going to get worse before they get better.
And before anyone gets started on the “whatever, that’s all you ever rant about and a broken clock is correct twice a day, whaaaaaah” criticisms: Spare me, already. What people like Rob, Paul (and, to a lesser extent, me) have done over the years is more like predicting when and how powerfully a volcano is going to erupt, and then when it happens within that timeframe and as destructively as we warned, the villagers are screaming about how nobody warned them.
I take no real pleasure in my continual litany of I-told-you-sos. And believe me, I stand to gain from this mess. Because I also do a lot of writing for marketing copy, newsletters, e-mail blasts, and the like; and I can tell you that the phone is going to be blowing up with gig opportunities when everyone is sh-tting bricks that they have too much inventory and need to get rid of a lot of wine, fast, and at crazy discounts. Short-term, this could be great for lining my pockets.
But long-term? I’m disgusted at the industry that I love taking its position for granted for a decade-plus, and ignoring the warning signs. A lot of people are going to lose jobs as this all shakes out. A lot of companies in the wine business are going to go under. Many will have deserved it, but some won’t. And my heart breaks for them.