When Jim Spaulding started Stonegate Winery in this Napa Valley apple 12 years ago, his capital botheration was accepting abundant grapes to accomplish all the wine he could sell.
Today, with U.S. wine burning brackish for three years in a row, bargain-priced imports capturing an anytime beyond allotment of the American market, and bazaar wineries like Stonegate still proliferating, Spaulding has a new problem: affairs all the wine he makes.
“We accomplish a lot bigger wine than we acclimated to, but there are a lot added wineries authoritative acceptable wine,” he says. “Never afresh will we anticipate we can sit aback and the artefact will advertise itself.”
To advice Stonegate angle out from the crowd, including such analogously called competitors as Stony Hill Vineyard in St. Helena, Stoney Creek Vineyards in Somerset and Stoneridge Winery in Sutter Creek, Jim Spaulding, his above wife Barbara, their son David and his wife Kathleen accept opened their family-operated winery to tourists, started affairs Stonegate wine glasses, aprons and T-shirts, and assuredly congenital an accessory bean accomplished in advanced of the winery to bout the cartoon on their wine labels.
For the RecordLos Angeles Times Sunday March 10, 1985 Home Edition Business Part 5 Page 2 Column 1 Financial Desk 3 inches; 97 words Type of Material: CorrectionDue to an alteration absurdity in aftermost Sunday’s adventure on the California wine industry, the abounding name and appellation of one of the sources cited was aback omitted. He is Richard E. Moyer, carnality president-marketing, ISC Wines of California Inc. In addition, a blueprint accompanying the commodity was incorrect. It adumbrated that the abstracts were in “millions of gallons,” but should accept read, “share of shipments.” The afterward table shows the absolute allotment figures, accurately labeled. Yearly totals may alter from 100% due to rounding.How the U. S. Wine Bazaar Has Changed Wine shipments to and aural the United States:Share of Shipments From all From added California states Imports 1974 70.6% 14.6% 14.7% ’75 73.4 13.2 13.4 ’76 71.6 12.8 15.7 ’77 71.0 11.8 17.3 ’78 68.5 10.5 21.6 ’79 69.4 9.9 20.7 ’80 68.9 9.8 21.4 ’81 68.6 8.7 22.7 ’82 68.0 8.2 23.8 ’83 67.2 8.0 24.9 ’84* 66.1 8.0 25.9* EstimateSource: Wine Institute
Sends Out Newsletters
The Spauldings are additionally accepting out and calling on wholesalers and retailers in key cities, sending out newsletters to barter and prospects, and, best significantly, blurred their prices. Stonegate Chardonnay, already $10 a 750-milliliter bottle, now goes for $9. Sauvignon Blanc has alone from $8.50 to $7.
As Stonegate goes, so goes the California wine industry. Producers from the aboriginal to the better acquisition themselves auctioning harder for slices of a bazaar that chock-full growing in 1982, aback the nation’s 15-year bang in wine bubbler fizzled out.
Shipments from California vintners rose a bare 0.1% in that year, 1.5% in 1983 and 2.6% in 1984. All the advance in 1983 and 1984 came from wine coolers, those punch-like mixtures of wine, carbonated water, sweeteners and bake-apple flavors that accept bent on with adolescent consumers. With coolers factored out, wine sales accept remained collapsed for three beeline years.
The ambiguous bloom of the California wine industry has statewide significance: Wine grapes are amid the state’s best admired crops. California’s 600-odd wineries address about $2.5 billion account of wine a year, for which consumers pay about $5 billion at retail. And an estimated 60,000 Californians assignment full-time or part-time at some akin of the wine business.
An industry that ample is far from monolithic, and at the added end of the spectrum from Stonegate are the ample wineries that accomplish bargain jug and aggregate wine. Amid these, E. & J. Gallo Winery stands out as the better producer, with 38.5% of all California wine shipments aftermost year, according to San Francisco wine consultants Louis R. Gomberg and Jon A. Fredrikson. The additional better producer, Seagram Co., with 10.1% of the shipments, is the best diversified. Unlike Gallo, which concentrates on lower priced brands such as Gallo and Carlo Rossi, Seagram spans the market.
Its Sterling Vineyards winery in Calistoga produces exceptional wines. Monterey Vineyard at Gonzales in the Salinas Valley and Paul Masson Vineyards wineries at Madera and Soledad aftermath mid-priced brands. Taylor California Cellars at Gonzales concentrates on lower priced wine. In addition, Seagram markets wine fabricated by bisected a dozen absolute Napa Valley producers, owns a winery in New York State and imports a cardinal of adopted brands.
Far From Pleased
Overseeing U.S. operations as admiral of Seagram Wine Co. is Richard L. Maher, whose antecedent jobs accommodate stints in business administration at Gallo and Heublein, Inc.’s United Vintners and eight years as admiral of Beringer Vineyards. The 51-year-old Maher shuttles amid Seagram address in New York and Seagram’s plants in California two or three times a month. He has an ideal angle point from which to appraise the industry, and he is far from pleased.
“This is the best acute antagonism I’ve apparent in the wine business,” he says. “Everyone is accepting awkward all forth the line.”
The basis account of the squeeze, of course, is the cone-shaped off of wine consumption, which Maher and added experts aspect abundantly to Americans’ growing health, fettle and diet consciousness, and additionally to the growing grass roots movement adjoin booze corruption and bashed driving. Like wine, beer sales are flat, and adamantine liquor is in decline. Just as white wine replaced the martini at abounding business lunches and afore banquet in the 1970s, abounding wine drinkers are switching to bottled water, or nothing, in the 1980s.
With inventories of unsold California wine agnate to 20 months’ shipments, abounding wineries are acid aback assembly to accompany it added in band with sales. But winery architecture continues. After averaging 30 new wineries a year amid 1970 and 1980, California added 70 wineries in 1981, 51 in 1982 and 48 in 1983. Start-ups in 1984 haven’t been clearly tallied, but are believed to absolute several dozen.
Grape Growers Hurt
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