Beating last year's wine sales? It depends
TRI-COUNTY AREA—The Finger Lakes provides an abundance of wineries for people to visit, with new ones starting each year.
For example, there are currently 34 wineries that are members of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail. In 2006, there were 29 members. However, that increased number may be affecting some business. Some wineries are saying sales are down in the first half of this year compared to the same time last year, and that it is because of the increasing number of wineries.
Ann Martini, co-owner of Anthony Road Wine Company, said sales and the number of visitors are both down five percent when comparing the first six months of 2011 to the first six months of 2010. She attributed the drop to the number of wineries in the area.
Martini explained there are more wineries in the area than there used to be just a few years ago. She added Anthony Road used to be the second winery when traveling down the west side of the lake from Geneva; now it’s the eighth winery down from Geneva. She said people have a certain number of wineries they will visit.
Liz Stamp, co-owner of Lakewood Vineyards, said people visit an average of five wineries a day.
“To get a piece of the pie, the pie’s got to get bigger,” Stamp said. She explained that with more wineries vying for business, there needs to be more customers visiting the area overall to benefit all the wineries.
However, Lakewood has reported an increase in sales this year. Stamp said visitation is up 6.5 percent, and that sales are up 12 percent. She attributed their increases to the promotions being done out of state by Finger Lakes groups. Stamp also said that Lakewood is getting visitors from farther away. She said out-of-state traffic, from northern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, has increased.
Tom Prejean, owner of Prejean Winery, reported sales are flat, with no increase or decrease over last year. Prejean said he doesn’t know if that is because of the new wineries, but he’s trying to figure that out himself.
Sayre Fulkerson, winemaker for Fulkerson Winery, said wholesale profits are down about three percent, while retail sales are up about the same. He explained overall, Fulkerson Winery has broken even with the last six months of last year. Fulkerson said foot traffic has also experienced a slight increase.
Mark Karasz said sales at Rock Stream Vineyards are down four percent. He added traffic has also been down the same amount. Karasz said he doesn’t expect sales will do much better.
Scott Osborn, owner of Fox Run Vineyards, said the number of customers during the first six months of this year compared to same time last year is up five percent. For the same time period, Osborn said sales are up 10 percent. He said the only real change for Fox Run is that more people are interested in Riesling than before. He added the impact of new wineries on Fox Run’s business is hard to determine.
Amy Hoffman, president of Rooster Hill Vineyards, explained Keuka Lake has not experienced as many new wineries as Seneca Lake. She said that for Rooster Hill, most of the visitors are repeat customers. Hoffman said Rooster Hill had a five to 10 percent increase in visitors over last year.
When it comes to what people are buying, many wineries are saying the lower priced wine is at the top of the list. Stamp added that over all, the $10 and under bottles are the most popular. Fulkerson said the $12 and under bottles are the popular ones. He added that the cheapest bottle of wine is $7.50. The demand at Fox Run is similar. Osborn said the $9 to $15 price range is the most popular.