Making the Most of the Current Wine Trend

Kitchen and bath retailers are increasingly taking advantage of the current trend toward personalizing home spaces by offering specialty products. One such “niche” market seeing a surge in popularity has to do with wine. Whether clients are interested in a place to store their wine collection, or entertain other wine enthusiasts, the growing passion for wine storage in the home provides unique opportunities for kitchen and bath dealers and designers.

Incorporating solutions pertaining to this trend into an existing showroom need not be difficult. By integrating various levels of wine storage options into displays, or in small add-ons within a showroom, you can help showroom visitors envision these possibilities in their own homes.

No longer is wine an indulgence reserved for the wealthy. In fact, as the price of wine has decreased in the past decade, it has become very popular with a younger demographic that includes Generation X and Generation Now. Research indicates that wine consumption in the U.S. has increased each year for the past 13 years. This trend is driven by the large number of the newest generation of alcohol drinkers, which includes 60 million new and potential wine drinkers between 1996 and 2010.

Interestingly, most wine purchased in the U.S. is consumed within 20 minutes, according to Marianne Frantz of the Cleveland Wine School. These consumers are not buying expensive bottles for collecting, but instead are purchasing “value wines” for immediate consumption. Even so, these are increasingly wine-savvy consumers, thanks to globalization, increased travel, focused marketing and more disposable income.

Most importantly, sales of wine in the U.S. have surpassed beer sales in dollars for the first time ever. This fact, combined with the trend toward more at-home entertaining, has resulted in a demand for wine amenities and storage options.

Whether they are younger drinkers buying wine for immediate or short-term consumption, Baby Boomers building their fine wine collections or Eco-Boomers purchasing value wines, wine drinkers want to experience this trend at home. Savvy kitchen and bath dealers should consider this consumer niche as they plan out their showroom displays to take advantage of this growing niche.

Storage Categories

To capitalize on the wine trend, kitchen and bath professionals need to emphasize displays at all price points. This is accomplished through displaying wine storage possibilities for all consumer groups. Today’s three categories of wine storage – basic, mid-level and luxury – are based on income.

Basic wine storage consists of a countertop unit, a wood wine shelf, an X-divided cabinet or a lattice insert. Such options can be easily added into an existing design as an under-cabinet unit or end of run.

This simple type of storage displays wine in bottles at room temperature, where it is subject to seasonal changes in temperature and humidity. Therefore, basic storage options are best for the short term, when wine is intended for consumption within a few months or less.

Mid-level storage includes small to medium stand-alone wine refrigerators. Offered by a variety of manufacturers and ranging in price from the low hundreds to a few thousand dollars, these units offer a more climate-controlled environment for wine. Smaller coolers can be placed on the countertop, while larger units can be built into a kitchen or bar design by adding on to an existing island or end of run.

Even though this type of climate-controlled storage is better for wine than room-temperature storage, the majority of these smaller refrigerators are not intended to preserve wine for the long term.

Luxury storage incorporates a wine cellar in the true sense of the term. This is a professionally built room specifically for the safe storage and preservation of wine. Costing tens of thousands of dollars, wine cellars are custom built to the specifications of the user and the wine industry. They are temperature- and humidity-controlled and can house a large volume of costly wine for an extended period of time.

From wine openers to countertop chillers and refrigerators to decorative and cabinetry-grade racks, basic and mid-level amenities are readily available to consumers. Offering at least these first two retail options makes sense in your showroom. You can cater to this niche by adding wine storage and accessories to your current product displays. Just be sure to fill the wine rack if you go through the trouble to install it – customers want to see what it will look like in their home.

Finally, don’t be afraid to go one step further, to maximize the impact of your wine amenities. Consider hosting an in-store wine tasting to attract remodeling-ready consumers who are interested in the niche.

Selling Cellars

While it’s true that value-minded wine consumers are driving the current wine trend, high-end consumers are the ones building wine cellars. In fact, wine cellars have become the hottest new luxury statement, capturing the honor previously held by the home theater room, which has become more mainstream.

If your business’ location and clientele lean more toward a high-profile or luxury lifestyle, it makes sense to consider partnering with a reputable contractor who specializes in custom-built wine cellars.

Rob Meyers of Cleveland-based Meyers Homes began building wine cellars five years ago to augment his slower, off-season work schedule and make the most of this new consumer market. While the niche is small, the wine cellars are very high end, with an average cost of $30,000 to $80,000 for homes costing one million dollars and more.

Most of Meyers’ wine cellar clients have extensive collections of fine wine, often numbering into thousands of bottles.

Therefore, such collectors need a safe, controlled environment to protect their investment. Too much humidity can cause mold to grow on wine labels; if it’s too dry, corks shrink and compromise the wine.

The Wine Cellar Technologies walk-in coolers Meyers installs mimic conditions found in the caves of Provençe, France, maintaining an average temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit and 60 percent humidity. The rooms require a moisture barrier to keep this delicate balance.

While wine cellars might be considered the height of luxury, the bulk of consumers behind the current wine trend are still purchasing value wines for immediate consumption. However, Frantz notes that, as these younger drinkers age and grow in wealth, they, too, could become collectors.

In any case, wine is here now, and it looks as if it’s here to stay. Officially addressing this consumer trend with your kitchen and bath clients is a worthwhile consideration, and one that can make a valuable and profitable addition to your showroom and business plan.