Interest in opening new wineries in county has sustained throughout COVID-19 pandemic, despite decline in overall gross sales, demonstrating optimism among wine makers in region
SAN DIEGO – March 25, 2021 – The San Diego County Vintners Association (SDCVA), a trade organization dedicated to supporting the winemaking community in San Diego County, released the 2021 San Diego County Economic Impact of Wineries report today. Like some other business sectors, the COVID-19 crisis negatively impacted the San Diego County wine industry. According to the report, county wineries realized about $37.1 million in gross sales last year, a 19.6% decline from an all-time-high of sales reached in 2019 ($46.2 million). Simultaneously, the number of wineries rose to 150 in the county over the same time. Regional wine industry jobs also saw a slight increase with 720 wine industry jobs in 2020, an increase of 2.6% over 2019 and 17.7% higher than the 2018 total.
San Diego County vineyards harvested 3,596 tons of wine grapes in 2019, generating a $5.58 million production value, with a sales price of $1,552 per ton, a record amount achieved in the region. The top five varietals grown, cultivated and/or sold in the region were Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Sangiovese, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.
“Wineries are a growing industry in San Diego County and key part of our regional economy,” says California State Senator Brian Jones. “It’s environmentally friendly and provides good, well-paying jobs for hundreds of San Diegans directly, and even more in related fields. With a Mediterranean-like climate and home to over 60 varietals, San Diego County wineries are vital players with unlimited potential in building an even stronger local economy.”
Written by Vince Vasquez, independent economic analyst and executive director of the Policycraft Institute, the report relies on survey data, economic modeling software, California ABC licenses, and County records to calculate the economic health of the wine industry in San Diego County.
“San Diego County is fortunate to have a vast amount of wineries, especially in North County. It’s been a difficult year for everyone, including the wine industry, but I know it will bounce back. I have been a big supporter of keeping wineries open throughout the past year, for jobs and keeping our small businesses alive,” says County Supervisor Jim Desmond.
The number of wineries and vineyards in the region has steadily grown over the past few years. Data from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) shows that as of February 2021, there are 203 active winegrower licenses in San Diego County, nearly double the tally of neighboring Riverside County (108). It’s estimated that there are currently 150 unique operating wineries and planned wineries in San Diego County, an increase from late 2019 (142).
“The economic, historic and cultural contribution of San Diego County’s wine industry to our region cannot be overstated. Grapes have been harvested locally for more than 200 years, and today our growing wine industry continues to create jobs, provide food, entertainment, and cultural amenities. As a member of the Assembly Select Committee on Wine, I am excited to advocate on behalf of our vibrant grape growing industry,” says California Assembly Member Waldron.
San Diego wineries remain optimistic on the industry’s ability to grow despite recent setbacks caused by the crises of the past year.
“Even with challenges from the pandemic, we saw innovative sales strategies among local wineries such as curbside pickup and outside service reservations – demonstrating the innovation and incredible resilience of our winery members in the face of unprecedented times,” says San Diego County Vintners Association President Ed Embly, owner of Hungry Hawk Vineyards in Escondido. “We continue to see the number of wineries grow in the county and a bright future for the industry in our region.”