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Vine Notes: Wineries can tap into growth in health and wellness category

Vine Notes

Catherine M. Vyenielo (Catherine.Vyenielo@raboag.com) is senior vice president and senior relationship manager for Rabo AgriFinance in the North Coast.

Read past Vine Notes columns.

Taking a look at the current state of the wine industry, there are certainly some positives, namely a rebound from pandemic restrictions. However, it can’t be ignored that spirits continue to outpace wine’s flat growth by a fairly sizable margin.

As wine companies look to contend with this reality, expanding into the health and wellness category should be explored. Thanks to my colleagues in the RaboResearch team, I can share insight into why this category is poised for takeoff and how a brand can live in the “better for you” space.

Today’s consumer profile

On a recent episode of RaboResearch’s “Liquid Assets” podcast, Wine Market Council President Dale Stratton relayed results from a consumer demographic survey. It found that today’s consumer drinks alcoholic beverages across all categories.

And while most generally do not associate alcoholic beverages with a wellness lifestyle, within the category, they do see wine fitting this profile more than other beverages. Further, consumers under age 35 are more inclined to drink beverages with lower alcohol content.

Consumers have diverse and interesting offerings in spirits, beer, and cider that are pioneering changes in alcohol content and nutritional factors. The spirits sector has seen incredible success in this area, with the continually increasing popularity of beverages like hard seltzers that tout low alcohol content as a positive attribute.

Taste is critical when creating a beverage that plays more into the health and wellness space. Consumers must see the tradeoff as “worth it.” Understanding this is an integral component to the wine industry hitting the mark within this trend. Millennials are an extremely influential group whose tastes and preferences differ from previous generations, and tapping into this market with options they are asking for represents an enormous opportunity for wine companies.

Wine’s ‘wellness opportunity’

The health and wellness trend is thriving across many industries. You’d be hard-pressed to find a category in your grocery store that doesn’t offer a “better for you” option, except, until recently, wine. The general consensus for many years has seemed to be that wine is already perceived as the healthier option within the alcohol space.

Now there are multiple, new wine labels looking to fill this void. And having seen the impossible-to-ignore success of hard seltzers, retailers have had a strong interest in this new category of wines.

Just launched in 2020, the Sunny with a Chance of Flowers (Sunny) label from Monterey County’s Scheid Family Wines has already seen much success. It was a 2020 “Top 10 Hot Brand” by Wine Business Monthly.

Sunny currently offers a chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon and rosé. The labels are colorful, cheerful and put the product’s attributes — 85 calories, zero sugar, and 9% alcohol per serving — front and center. Heidi Scheid of Scheid Family Wines notes that while the brand’s initial goal was to capitalize on millennial drinkers’ interest in wellness, the company has found that the Sunny brand’s different attributes resonate with different age groups for various reasons.

What’s next?

The Sunny example is a great case study for marketing because Scheid Family Wines shied away from more traditional wine branding for Sunny. Now their door is open to consider different categories for the label down the line. This could include hard seltzers and spritzes.

As wine brands continue to evaluate their operations and offerings to contend with the growth of other categories and adapt to a new post-pandemic normal, they might find that the health and wellness category is just what their customers have been looking for.

Vine Notes

Catherine M. Vyenielo (Catherine.Vyenielo@raboag.com) is senior vice president and senior relationship manager for Rabo AgriFinance in the North Coast.

Read past Vine Notes columns.

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