Now that ole TB has got your attention, the real question is how many wineries are there in the U.S.? Answer: 8,702! That’s an increase of 5% over last year. As one would expect California leads the pack with 4,207! That should not be surprising – except the number is huge! Back to the totals: 7,061 are bonded wineries that make the wine on site, but there are also 1,641 ‘virtual’ wineries. Wine Institute
A bonded winery is licensed by the feds and has to have a specific space to store wines that have been taxed, so they can be open to inspection. A virtual winery is not in cyberspace as one might think, but make their wine in other wineries, especially ones that specifically make wine for several brands. Don’t scoff at these as many ‘cult’ wineries that produce a small number of cases, do this in order to make the operation feasible. Frankly, I was amazed there were that many, mostly in California, I am sure. Licensing is less strict for these although they have to keep the same records as other wineries.
Consider that going back to 1900-Prohibition there weren’t much more than 100 wineries in Napa Valley. Here is some data from the cited article for number of California and U.S. bonded wineries:
California United States
1940 474 1,090 Just before start of WWII
1970 240 441 Beginning of Wine Boom
1997 1,011 1,988 1st time Cal. >1,000
2004 2,059 4,356 More than 2,000
2010 3,364 7,626 More than 3,000
2014 4,285 10,417 1st time >10k for the U.S.
2017 4,202 8,702 Likely some consolidation
If you find this interesting and would like to see more interesting facts, see Wine Business data
Most of the increase in the 1970-1997 period, I believe, came from development of new growing areas in California (Sonoma County, Central Coast, North Coast, etc.), as well as Oregon and Washington.
Hope you found this interesting. TB started out just looking for a current number and look what he got!
Does anyone remember the wine theft at the French Laundry just before Christmas? They were caught due to an honest collector becoming suspicious after buying the wine and then going to authorities. Well, the main guy was sentenced in March, and, he admitted to another wine theft from a restaurant. So…what was his sentence? FIFTEEN Months jail time…and make restitution on $600,000. Good luck on that. I thought the punishment was supposed to fit the crime? What if he stole $50,000 from a bank? That would have been at least a ten year sentence!
Also, you may recall the fraudulent sale of wine futures by Premier Cru, an Oakland, California wine shop that has had trouble in the past. The wine inventory was sold from the store and received lower bids than expected. Now they have to divide up the proceeds between the victims…and you thought wine people was good people. Think again!
Think I’ll go have a couple of glasses of wine…my head is spinning!