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Is California’s Wine Industry in Trouble?

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Colorful grapes in basket, white wine bottles and glass in front of landscape of vineyard. French countryside valley (Evgeny Karandaev via Getty Images)

California’s $55 billion wine industry is experiencing a downturn for the first time in decades. Wine consumption peaked in 2021 and has fallen each year, dropping  8.7% in 2023 according to one industry report. With bottles sitting on store shelves, cases piling up in winemakers’ warehouses and farmers unable to sell their crops, the ripple effects of the drop in wine-buying are felt throughout the industry. In California’s Central Valley, certain grape growers are diversifying, swapping grapes for other crops; others are demolishing their vineyards and transitioning to solar farms. Financially strained growers, unable to pursue either option, are left with having to allow their crops to wither on the vine. But is this just a short-term market correction or is California’s wine industry in serious trouble? We look at the potential factors underlying the downturn and explore the impact on Californians.


Esther Mobley, senior wine critic, San Francisco Chronicle

Amanda Mccrossin, wine content creator

Ryan Woodhouse, domestic wine buyer, K and L Wine Merchants

Stuart Spencer, executive director, Lodi Winegrape Commission; owner and winemaker, St. Amant Winery


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