From the New York Times:

On a recent sunny afternoon in the Napa Valley, the good life was much in evidence. Shoppers strolled down the sidewalks of charming downtown St. Helena. Tourists filled patio tables outside the Bouchon Bakery in Yountville, nibbling on Thomas Keller’s famous French macarons. Waiters popped cork after cork at crowded restaurants.

Beneath this cheery facade, however, vineyards and wineries — the backbone of the local economy — are facing a challenging time.

Many factors are involved, but perhaps the most important comes down to this: glass vs. bottle.

When the recession hit, a growing number of cost-conscious American diners began buying wine by the glass, rather than by the bottle.

The concept of selling quality wines by the glass dates to 1987 as a way to persuade connoisseurs to try Napa’s Opus One red, which sold for $50 a bottle — very expensive for that time.

For more, see: In Napa, Where the Downturn Is Measured Glass by Glass