BIG SALES & IMPACT
According to the accumulated data, San Diego’s wine industry generated a regional impact of $30.4 million in 2016. Conservative estimates of gross sales from local wineries amounted to $23,873,100, with 27% of that attributed to tourism. More than $2 million in sales and property tax were generated from 2016 sales. #SDWine supports a total of 697 jobs, including direct (519), indirect (84), and induced (94) employment.
A GROWING INDUSTRY
As of June 2017, San Diego County was home to approximately 116 active wineries. Including independent vineyards, the number of ABC Type 2 licenses currently stands at 165. Following the 2010 passage of the tiered winery ordinance, which eliminated the need for most wineries to obtain a major use permit, the industry really started to climb: 120+ licenses have been issued since, harvest yield has more than doubled (from 447 acres to 945 acres), and crop value has more than quadrupled (from $785,000 to $4.2 million). 30% of survey respondents* indicated operating “urban wineries” that have no on-site vineyard.
SMALL BIZ IS BIG
San Diego wineries are mostly small: 57% of survey respondents said they produced fewer than 1,000 cases in 2016. By comparison to the market just north of us, only 8% of wineries in Temecula Valley produced under 1,000 cases (in 2015). Fewer than 10% of SD wineries surveyed made more than 5,000 cases in 2016; 62% of Temecula Valley wineries reported packaging at least 5,000 cases.
Vintners utilized an average of more than eight varietals in 2016. In terms of varietals grown, cultivated and/or sold in 2016, both Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah were mentioned by 59% of wine makers. Sangiovese (46%), Merlot (38%), Cabernet Franc (32%), Zinfandel (32%), Viognier (30%), Malbec (27%), Petite Sirah (24%), Sauvignon Blanc (24%) round out the top 10. In total, respondents worked with more than 45 varietals.
A BLEND OF EXPERIENCE
27% of survey respondents have been making wine for more than 11 years. 38% answered 6 to 10 years, and 35% said 1 to 5 years. 8% hold a graduate degree in oenology, viticulture, or wine studies.
RELATIVELY LOW WAGES
Compared with California’s other wine regions, San Diego’s wages were the lowest in both 2014 and 2015, before jumping above Riverside in 2016. Vince Vasquez, the study’s author, attributed this to a number of factors:
1. “Most local wineries are boutique, family-owned, and small.”
2. “Of those that do hire outside help, it is mostly for part-time work in the tasting room.”
3. “Wage levels are also reflective of the relative year established and scale of vineyard and winery operations – Northern California and the Central Coast have been home to large scale production wineries, exporting globally for decades, and require a great array of skilled, experienced workers, which command higher salaries.”
* 32% of the San Diego’s wineries contacted filled out the 18-question survey. Vasquez told SDBT that “the survey response rate was higher than what’s considered adequate for social science purposes (generally 30%+)” and noted in the report that “this response rate is within the range of prior rates generated from our research into the Southern California craft beer industry.”
– San Diego is the home of California wine. Spanish missionary Junípero Serra planted wine grapes shortly after founding La Misión San Diego de Alcalá in 1769.
– Permitting and local regulation ranked as the top answer regarding perceived impediments to industry growth, followed by labor costs. Water rates and supply ranked last; however, 76% of respondents were somewhat concerned about the future impact of the state drought and water policy.
– Over the summer, we interviewed author Bruce Glassman, who wrote a guide to San Diego’s wineries.
– Check out the full report for more information on winery density and classification, tourism, workforce development, and education programs in the region.