With some nine million people, New York is the most populous city in the United States. And if you throw in the whole metropolitan area, you have one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world, with a population of 19 million people. New York is both the financial and economic centre of the United States; it goes without saying that this is one of the most important cities in the world in terms of trade and politics. All this makes the wine market extremely important and interesting for most global importers and distributors.
Expanding our view from the city to the state of New York, it is worth noting that there are just under 500 wineries here: that makes New York the country’s third largest wine-producing state. The entire wine industry in New York State generates close to $14.93 billion according to the National Association of American Wineries.
Wine distribution in New York
35,000 people are employed in the state’s wholesale and retail trade of wine, not including those employed in logistics. Like other major cities in the world, New York operates a three-tier system for the import and distribution of wine, with wine producers selling to producers or wholesalers, who sell to retailers.
One interesting feature of wine distribution in New York is the fact that only a small part of the wine produced in the state is sold through wholesalers. Surprisingly, most wine is sold directly from wineries. Tourists make over 4.71 million visits to the state’s wineries and vineyards, spending some $2.60 billion according to Economic Impact Study of the New York Wine & Grape Industries. At the same time, wine tourism and small family wineries play a significant role in these sales. As of 2017, only 37% of wine produced in New York ends up in the wholesale trade network.
The third tier, retailing, is responsible for selling wine to consumers through on- and off-premise businesses such as restaurants, bars, licensed liquor stores and wine shops. In New York, the wine industry creates 36,552 jobs in the on- and off-premise retail and hospitality sectors. These jobs pay about $1.21 billion in wages and contribute $2.40 billion in economic activity to the state.
Wine and Beverage Preferences Among New Yorkers
A recent study conducted by vivino shows that the preferences of New Yorkers vary greatly depending on the area of the city. For example, Manhattanites prefer wines over $22, while Staten Islanders prefer Italian wines with an average price of $19, and French wine is especially popular in Brooklyn. Data like this underlines the diversity of New York, showing that there’s room on the market for all varieties of wine.
Despite this, the share of wine in New York’s overall consumption of alcoholic beverages remains relatively small. Beer makes up 78% of all alcohol consumed in New York, while wine accounts for 14%, and spirits some 8%. Table still wines accounted for 89% of total wine, with sparkling wines an additional 9%, and dessert wines with only a little over 1%.
New York’s Top 5 Importers
Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits
One of the largest alcohol and wine distributors in the USA, Southern Glazer’s was founded forty years ago and is New York’s largest distributor according to the Wine Business Analytics website.
AP Wine Imports
AP is a well-known importer and wholesaler company with an excellent reputation. The company works mainly with European wineries, covering all of its major wine-growing regions and countries. From its base in New York, AP operates in many areas of the US. It stated goal is to ‘represent the best European terroir-driven wines in the United States’.
Banville Wine Merchants
Banville Wine Merchants is a fine wine distributor headquartered in New York City. Their portfolio is focused on artisan-produced family-owned wineries. Banville believe that the best wines are the products of great terroir; that is, that the most important factor is the vineyard. Banville Wine Merchants was founded in 2004 and is family-owned.
Skurnik Wines is a famous importer and distributor of wines and spirits, with an excellent portfolio of wines and spirits from around the world. The company began with just a handful of relatively unknown estates in 1987 and has since grown to represent over 500 estates. They are the exclusive representatives of a number of producers in their home markets of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, and are the national importer for many wines as well.
Bowler is an independent fine wine and spirits distributor and importer based in New York City. Their portfolio is made up of mostly small, family-run estates, each sharing a philosophy that includes organic or biodynamic farming practices and winemaking or distilling techniques best described as ‘low intervention’.