A Rabobank branch in The Hague, Netherlands. AP Photo/Mike Corder

One of the nation’s leading investment banks has quite a lot to say about what the wine future holds. Rabobank, and its New York-based global strategist for beverages Stephen Rannekleiv, have long tracked the growth of and changes to the wine business. The institution’s third quarterly report, published in July of this year, had a number of interesting insights.

Rannekleiv noted that major changes this year include a tight 2017 harvest in both Old and New World areas; continued consolidation among wholesalers; and a potential lessening of the costs of bulk wine in many regions around the world.

The United States continues to be the largest wine market in the world, he noted, and it continues to constantly evolve. “It is also widely seen as an exceptionally difficult market to penetrate [particularly for small wineries] given the [existence of] the three-tier system, retailer consolidation,” he concluded in the report.

The Nitty Gritty of the Situation

Steve Rannekleiv photographed at Rabobank in New York City. Photo by Matt Nager Rabobank

Rannekleiv noted that a number of factors are also hugely influencing the wine sales market in the United Sates. They include continually merging suppliers and importers; major chains—such as noted multi-unit Total Wine & More—aggressively discounting; and over-the-border shipping and taxation issues such as what has recently occurred in both the Chicago and New Hampshire markets.

One of the largest wholesale mergers was the consolidation of Southern Wine & Sprits and Glazer’s, which is now called Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, two years ago.