To date, the press coverage about how Colorado's wine industry is faring in this economic downturn has been contradictory. On the one hand, 5280 Magazine says that wine sales are steady. On the other hand, local TV station KJCT 8 questioned whether or not the wineries were actually holding up in this recession.
We tend to lean towards 5280 Magazine, who spoke to Doug Caskey and the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board, who supplied actual statistics. This does not discredit the anecdotal evidence gathered by KJCT 8 Reporter Sara Goldenberg. According to the vintners Goldberg interviewed, they are tightening their belts and looking towards a leaner future.
March's announcement that Two Rivers Winery is aquiring Amber Ridge shows that at least some of the wineries are bullish on the future.
"In Grand Junction we really have a unique opportunity to retrench, retool and rethink our strategies," says Bob Witham, owner of Two Rivers. "Our new acquisition gives us the chance to do just that. Just because our economy is static and adrift, it does not mean that we have to be. You can choose to wring your hands and complain or you can choose to make your environment dynamic. It is only within this vibrant atmosphere that innovation can and will occur."
Now, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel has waded into the debate. armed with new statistics from Doug Caskey.
Under the headline, "Marketing In Economic Slump Important For Tourist-Oriented Wine Industry," Sentinel Reporter Dave.Buchanan writes:
"There’s only one way out of this economic slump and that’s to keep money in circulation."
"Why not spend some at your local winery?"
"That’s not entirely frivolous. Many Colorado wineries appear to be holding the line on business in spite of a general financial malaise settling like a fog across the economy."
"A bountiful harvest last fall, several notable wins at national wine competitions and a hangover (of the right sort) from a busy summer have kept the momentum going for the state’s winemakers."
“A lot of people, especially in Paonia, Palisade and Cortez, had really good summers,” said Doug Caskey, executive director of the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board. “And talking recently to some wineries, I was told some of them had better Januaries than they’ve ever had. In some cases, it even out-stripped December, which is unheard of.”
"Caskey knows that January can be awfully slow, even in the best of years, at most wineries. Many of them are located in rural areas (because, to paraphrase bank robber Willie Sutton, “that’s where the grapes are”), where tourism drops off the map in the off-season."
"Plus, a fear of recession has some wineries, along with many, many other businesses, cutting back in their marketing budgets, a move Caskey says might be the wrong one for a tourist-oriented business."
“Marketing is even more important when you’re dealing with a transient customer base,” he said. “You have to make sure you have a way for people to find you.”
"To that end, Caskey recently sent an e-mail to the state’s wineries with an article from the New York Wine and Grape Foundation."
"The article, referring to a study by A.C. Neilsen Co., said companies that cutback their marketing during the 1980s recession saw a 19 percent increase in business five years later while companies that retained or built their marketing during the recession grew 275 percent."
You can read the rest of the Sentinel article about Colorado's steady yet optimistic wine economy.
What do you think? Will the current success in Colorado's wine industry hold, or is it just a blip with an inevitable downturn, given the state of things?