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Winery Hiring Surges as Reopening Begins

by Peter Mitham
May 18, 2021

In step with the loosening of pandemic restrictions and the reopening of the US economy, winery hiring activity has spiked and job postings have been led for roles in hospitality and direct to consumer (DTC) programs.’s Winery Job Index hit 740 in April, up 334% versus a year ago and 25% above 2019. The increase made this month’s data the strongest in the past decade, reflecting the active job market for all types of winery positions.

All subindices saw gains. Particularly intense demand for DtC positions, including tasting room and retail staff, pushed the index 3,571% beyond a year ago to 1,469. With tasting rooms largely closed last April and demand near zero, hiring this year had nowhere to go but up, making it the most significant component of the index. Demand for DTC staff beat seasonal demand for vineyard labor, which indexed 1,114, up 136% from last year. The second most-active subcategory was sales and marketing, up 361% to 204, while demand for winemaking and production roles indexed at 991, up 146% versus a year ago.

Year-to-date demand was even with 2019, however, highlighting the overall strength of the recovery in winery jobs even as the average for the latest 12 months remained down 12%. Demand for sales and marketing was unique in not setting a new benchmark for the month. It was down 23% from two years ago and the 12-month average pointed to a 35% decrease in demand. However, the active market underscores the attention wineries are giving to customer relations as they prepare to welcome post-pandemic visitors. 

The hiring data is part of the regular Wine Industry Metrics released each month in the Wine Analytics Report, which also included the latest DTC data on shipments in the 12 months through April. Compared to April 2020, DTC shipments declined 13% by volume to more than 818,000 cases.

The decline in shipment volume is not that unexpected as April of last year was the highpoint of the early pandemic boom in DtC sales. Total shipment value, however, was up 5% to more than $390 million indicating that the overall increase in the DtC market may be one of the pandemic trends that persist.

Consumer spending on domestic wine, including bulk imports, was down 4% to $47.7 billion in the 12 months ended April, according to market research firm bw166. The drop in value was countered by greater volume, which increased nearly 5% to 313.9 million cases.

The value of the total wine market in the U.S. fell 7% in the 12 months ended April to $67.8 billion. This was a smaller decline than in recent periods, and confirmed the recovery taking place across channels. 

Sales of domestic table and sparkling wines through NielsenIQ off-premise outlets topped $955 million in the four weeks ended April 24, down 14% versus a year ago. Volume saw a sharper drop, falling 20% to 9.6 million cases. 

The Wine Analytics Report is a monthly, digital report on the U.S. wine industry produced by the editorial team at Wines Vines Analytics and based on information from proprietary databases and data supplied by partner research firms. The report and Wines Vines Analytics are part of the Wine Communications Group that also publishes Wine Business Monthly.

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