Northwest wine makers struggle just to keep sales flat

Sep 22, 2011

RICHLAND, Wash. – Northwest wineries are working harder than ever just to keep sales flat. That's what winery owners and market experts are saying as wine lovers gather this weekend for the Columbia Valley's Catch the Crush event.

"We pay our bills," one winery owner told me. "There’s a lot of extra wine out there," said another.

Many wine owners are traveling more often to sell wine to restaurants and wine shops. They’re setting up wine clubs to market directly to consumers. And they're producing higher volumes of lower-cost wines.

"It is still a good time for wine," says Wine economist Mike Veseth, who wrote the recent book "Wine Wars."

"This decade, when we are through with it, we will look back and say this was a good decade for wine in America, the world and the Pacific Northwest." He adds, "but we'll say the period between 2008 and 2014 was very trying."

Northwest wineries aren't cropping up at the same rapid pace as they were in the last decade. But the Washington Wine Commission says the industry is still growing overall.

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