A growth in U.S. wine sales has been slowing for years. But according to Rob McMillan’s annual State of the Industry report, Americans actually bought less wine in 2022 than they did in 2021. This was the first annual decline in quite some time.
And it seems the issue isn’t with premium wines or older demographics. The report states that expensive wines continue to sell, but bottles that cost less than $15 are not doing so well. In addition, Gen Z and Millennial consumers are not drinking wine, despite recent marketing efforts to boost the booze’s sales among them.
“The growth of share is coming from those over 60, and everyone else is losing share,” McMillan told Wine-Searcher. “The Millennial generation has less interest in wine than they did in 2007. Whatever we’re doing to attract the younger consumer, we should stop it immediately. Because it isn’t working.”
The problem isn’t that younger people aren’t buying wine, it’s that they don’t necessarily think of it as a daily beverage. Twenty-, 30- and 40-somethings think of wine as a special occasion drink, so they’re popping Champagne for celebrations and bringing bottles to birthday parties. But when it comes to having a glass with dinner at a restaurant or unwinding with a goblet at the end of the night, younger folks are choosing other beverages.
But not all is bad in the wine world. Three consecutive small vintages in California is good for supply and demand, and those harvests have yielded high-quality grapes. Wealthy people are still interested in buying vineyards, and states with wine regions that were underrated in the past (think Texas Hill Country and New York’s Finger Lakes) are becoming more prominent, which feeds the modern desire for local products.
And it really comes down to the fact that younger consumers are drinking less than the generations before them. Our take: wine is delicious and interesting, and everyone should try it more often. If you don’t know where to start, these are some of our favorite bottles right now.
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