Why Wine Country Is Not Attracting Millennials

Posted: Oct 17, 2019

The tasting room at Ashes & Diamonds, a 2-year-old winery just off Highway 29, does not feel very Napa.

For one, there is the decor, all midcentury modern, with brightly colored womb chairs and hip wood paneling. Then there is the music, a smorgasbord of faded funk hits and Brazilian covers of David Bowie, cooing out of the (excellent) sound system. But here's the true shocker: On a recent Tuesday afternoon, the room was filled with people under the age of 40.

Napa Valley, capital of wine tourism in California, pinnacle of New World luxury hooch, has a Millennial problem. The kids might be all grown up - by the end of this year, the youngest Millennial will be 23, using the Pew Research Center definition of the generation - but they aren't drinking wine the way their parents did, and the arena to see the shift up close is the Napa tasting room.

Today, Millennials make up just 17% of the fine wine market, according to the Silicon Valley Bank's influential annual wine industry report, and that number has stubbornly refused to budge for years. Tasting room visits in Napa have trended down for the last five years, even as regional tourism has boomed, and the average price for a tasting has skyrocketed to $40 per person.

While young wine drinkers may splurge on the occasional $50 bottle, $8 to $12 remains their sweet spot, says Rob McMillan, author of the bank's 2019 report. "The issue of greatest concern for the wine business today is the millennial generation's lack of participation in the premium wine category," the report warns.

"This generation is living in a post-bust world. They have an indulgence gap," McMillan says. "They're in an apartment, where it's hard to have a cellar - or even a wine fridge."

It's easy to blame the Millennials' disinterest in Napa solely on economics.

By David Ferry
October 16, 2019
Source and complete article: SFchronicle.com

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