U.S. consumer direct wine sales reached record levels in 2010 and continue to grow at a double-digit pace in 2011, according to the latest wine industry research reported by VinterActive LLC.

Based on their annual VinQuest survey of the nation’s 3500-plus bonded wineries, VinterActive reports that tasting room, wine club, internet, and event sales grew 12 percent to a record $3.4 billion in 2010 as wineries adopted new marketing strategies to emerge from the grip of recession.

Double-digit growth was reported from wineries of all sizes in all regions. Although tasting room sales remained flat in 2010, wine club sales recovered from a dismal 2009 while strong gains were also reported in online and event sales.

Key findings of this year’s research reveal:

  •     Total direct sales by U.S. wineries in 2010: $3.4 Billion
  •     Overall direct sales growth in 2010: 12percent
  •     Tasting room sales growth in 2010: 2percent
  •     Wine club sales growth in 2010: 19percent
  •     Online wine sales growth in 2010: 38percent
  •     Mail order sales growth in 2010: 12percent
  •     Phone order sales decline in 2010: -9percent
  •     Event sales growth in 2010: 37percent
  •     U.S. wineries projecting consumer direct as their fastest growing sales channel in 2011: 62percent

Despite significant concerns about visitor traffic, challenges with interstate shipping regulations and lingering worries about the economy, consumer direct wine sales remain on track for continued growth with winery sales managers in most regions forecasting 10 percent to 20 percent gains this year.

This year’s VinQuest research report identifies key benchmarks for direct sales performance across major U.S. wine regions and provides a detailed comparison of tasting room, wine club and online direct sales at U.S. wineries of every size. The VinQuest 2011 U.S. Consumer Direct Wine Sales Report also contains detailed benchmarks for winery use of social media including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

The VinQuest 2011 survey was conducted by wine marketing advisers VinterActive LLC with support from a national coalition of wine industry associations in an effort to better understand the size and dynamics of the U.S. consumer direct wine sales channel. Now in its seventh consecutive year, VinQuest research has produced the largest and most widely used source of consumer direct sales data in the U.S. wine industry.

Participating winery associations include: WineAmerica, Napa Valley Vintners, New York Wine & Grape Foundation, Illinois Wine, Wine Road, Heart of Sonoma Valley Association, Washington State Wine, Oregon Wine Board, Michigan Grape & Wine Industry Council, Seneca Lake Wine Trail, and the Paso Robles Wine Alliance. Initial guidance and encouragement was provided by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.