The Wine Industry is Transforming in 2021

Where to start? Covid-19 upended all our oenophile habits, shifting how we buy wine (online more than ever), how we taste and learn about it (virtually), and where we end up drinking it. (Not at parties, bars, and restaurants.)
Thankfully, many cities considered wine shops to be essential businesses. Vino has been a great connector this year, as we’ve shared glasses with friends virtually and traveled by proxy to regions we can’t visit.

Surprisingly, the pandemic didn’t shift what we put in our glasses all that much. Rosé is still hot. So is hard seltzer, which, along with canned cocktails, grew 43% during 2020. Bubbly is still going strong, with more countries than ever producing great examples.

The earliest harvest ever in Burgundy and devastating fires in California wine country for the fourth year in a row reminded people that climate change is a truly serious issue, and inspired new wine initiatives to save the planet.
Expect many of 2020’s trends to evolve in 2021—the health and wellness alcohol-free drinks boom, the canned and boxed wine movement, vino from extreme regions—helped along by new digital and AI technology innovations, even if everyone really dreams of returning to sharing wine with others outside their homes.

Pink prosecco is the new new thing

Rosé. Just. Doesn’t. Stop. Retailer sold seven  times more bottles of rosé wine in 2020 than in summer 2019.
2021’s big pink drink will be prosecco rosé. At the end of November, the approved category launched in Italy, which already has a boom in big-value pink wines. John Gillespie, founder and chief executive officer of market research firm Wine Opinions, says that combining the prosecco trend with the rosé trend is as close to a sure thing for success in the U.S. as he’s seen.

Online wine access will get way better

Online sales are booming with growth in the three digits. Rob McMillan, founder of Silicon Valley Bank Wine Division, reports that for small producers, it’s 153%. Expect new and expanded shopping sites and search engines in 2021.

The wine country of 2021 will be: Portugal

The thirst for discovery rolls on, and Portugal is becoming the latest hot spot.

It’s simple: quality-price ratio. They’re delicious, food-friendly, inexpensive, and more than worth the cost. Fresh, aromatic, savory whites and juicy, plush, smoky red blends, all from unusual varieties and some fermented in clay amphora. The region boasts rock-star winemakers, a fantastic sustainability program and one third of the world’s cork forests.

Sustainability will be the big eco-word

Once just a meaningless feel-good term in the wine industry, “sustainability” is starting to reflect serious commitment to organic vines, green winery design, carbon neutrality, and more.
But wineries are expanding sustainability to mean economic and social accountability, too, which includes promoting racial and gender diversity and taking care of workers—concerns especially important to younger drinkers.

In 2021, more wineries, including luxury wine giants, will promote new “ethical wine” initiatives such as the certified regenerative farming program, started by eco-warrioring clothier Patagonia Inc. In 2020, California’s Tablas Creek winery became the first winery to adopt its principles and get certified. International Wineries for Climate Action, which was founded last year by Spain’s Torres Family and California’s Jackson Family Wines, will also continue its mission.

This year we will see new trends in the wine industry that will adjust to the different lifestyle that we will lead in 2021. We are eager to know more about the new products and features that our favorite brands will bring to the market.

Wine & Spiris Special by EuropeanLife