Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Agribusiness




Marianne McGarry Wolf



Regional Wine Reputation: How It Influences Trade

and Consumer Purchasing Behavior

Joseph Bernard Ostrander

What are wine trade buyers and wine consumers willing to pay for a bottle of wine based on the reputation of the grape growing region apart from existing corporate branding reputation, variety popularity, or accolades from industry periodicals and celebrity wine critics? Results from a previous study discovered how attitudes about place-of-origin influenced consumer perceptions regarding the quality associated with the wines from that region. Related research also looked at how wine prices depended on the quality associated with a wine region’s reputation when linked to older, and better known wine regions from different countries. The purpose of this research was to examine the attitudes of wine trade buyers and wine consumers to determine how much of an influence American Viticulture Areas (AVAs) have on their purchasing decisions.

A trade survey was conducted during November and December 2014 and sent via email to 1,778 wine trade contacts that were provided by a well-known winery in San Luis Obispo County. Final responses numbered 152 (8.5%) from trade businesses located in the U.S. The majority of participants were from Florida (24%) and California (22%), with 71% being on-premise sales channels while 29% were retail off-premise outlets.

Respondents to the trade survey were asked to rank eight different desirability factors about the wines they selected for resale. The two most desirable features indicated were: 1) Quality product; and 2) Reputation of wine region. However, the choice of wine From a well-known AVA, was only a somewhat to very desirable trait. This could suggest that the wine trade is either unaware or unsure of what an AVA is. Of the 152 wine trade respondents that were asked how often they make a decision to purchase one wine versus another based on where it was produced, 43% indicated they always, or very often do so. Moreover, 81% of the trade respondents indicated that a wine’s place-of-origin did influence their purchasing decision at least somewhat often.

A related survey involving 302 wine consumers was conducted in San Luis Obispo County during October 2014 and February 2015. Responses were collected outside selected grocery stores using the personal interview method. The survey demographics of those consumers that participated in the study were similar to the MRI+ statistics of domestic wine consumers, although there was a higher proportion of younger respondents in the current sample.

Wine consumers were also asked to rate six different features by desirability when making a decision to purchase wine. The two most desirable features indicated by respondents were: 1) Good value for quality; and 2) Varietal. However, wine selected From a respected region, was considered only a somewhat desirable trait. These findings were not surprising since 16% of the total consumers also indicated they did not know the place-of-origin of the wines they purchased. Likewise, 60% of consumers always, or very often Read the label to learn where the wine was produced, while only 38% indicated they always, or very often Make a decision to purchase one wine versus another based on where the wine was produced.

Results suggest that for the typical wine consumer the grape growing region is not an important factor when making a purchasing decision. Conversely, wine trade decision makers do consider a wine’s place-of-origin an important factor when they select wines for their restaurants, wine bar menus, and outlet shelves. Consequently, wine regions should prioritize efforts toward educating the wine trade by highlighting the quality of their area’s winegrowing practices.

Included in

Agribusiness Commons