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Alumni in Action

The Business of Wine: Alumni ‘Uncork’ Insights on Production and Consumer Trends in the Wine Industry

By Wisconsin School of Business

February 27, 2023

The Business of Wine

People all over the world not only enjoy wine, but consider it a vital part of their social and cultural interactions. In the United States alone, consumers drank more than 800 million gallons of wine in 2021, according to the Wine Institute. A beverage with that much popularity makes for a complex and exciting business!

Two UW–Madison alumni joined the Wisconsin School of Business for a virtual event on Thursday, February 23 to discuss the multi-faceted nature of the wine industry: Angela Shih (BBA ’00), senior director of commercial insights at Treasury Wine Estates, and Claire Nitschke (BA ’16), Master of Science candidate of enology and viticulture at Geisenheim University.

Shih and Nitschke offered an inside look into the production and consumer side of the wine industry. The two discussed how many factors—grape variety, climate, wine-making style, and more—combine to make the perfect bottle. Shih also emphasized the importance of focusing on the consumer, and how different techniques in branding and new innovations can appeal to consumers and drive business. She says, “It’s important to look at those trends that are happening in the [ready-to-drink] space, for example, and think about how they can be translated to wine.”

The panelists also touched on the impact of climate change in the wine industry. “Grapes that we’ve grown historically in areas for hundreds and hundreds of years are now incompatible with the [current] climate,” says Nitschke. But both speakers remain optimistic about the future of sustainability in the wine industry. One key area of discussion was the transition to alternative wine packaging, such as bags, boxes, and cans, which leave a smaller carbon footprint than the classic glass bottle.

Shih and Nitschke also shared perspectives on pricing trends, consumer tastes, and the differences between American and European production and distribution.

Watch the full conversation above or on the Wisconsin School of Business YouTube page.