Starbucks Expands to Sell Wine

Starbucks offers wineHow about choosing Chianti over a cappuccino? You’ll be able to do that in select locations as Starbucks expands to sell wine.

It makes sense. The Great Recession led to a drop in both Starbucks store openings and net revenues in 2009 coupled with a -3 percent comparable store sales growth in 2008 and double that (-6 percent) in 2009, according to Starbucks Annual Report for 2009 (Starbucks Investor Relations). Plus it seemed every piece of advice pertaining to personal budgeting as everyone tightened their belts during this time involved asking, “Do you really need that $5.00 cup of coffee?”

To boost sales, the coffee giant expanded to draw in a lunch and afternoon crowd and introduced a fuller food menu including sandwiches and salads. In an interview with Bloomberg, Starbucks Chief Financial Officer, Troy Alstead commented, “Foods have been phenomenal for us.” (Bloomberg.comStarbucks Profit Gains 25% as U.S. Sales Improve.”)

Wine Is the Next Expansion

With the success of drawing patrons in during the afternoon with a broader menu and RefreshersTM (hand-crafted, energizing sodas), Starbucks expansion to offer wine and draw an evening crowd is certainly the next logical step.

Starbucks Evenings begin at select locations after 4:00 p.m. According to its site, Starbucks describes this venture: “The food is amazing. The wine selection is simple and smart. The chairs are just as comfortable as they are in the morning.”

As with coffee ordering, you’ll order from a barista, and the regular food and beverage menu will also be available. Plus purchases will apply to the MyStarbucksRewardsTM program, but you won’t be able to cash that in for free wine or beer.

Starbucks Wine Offering Great News for Vintners

Starbucks expansion to sell wine is only available in select locations, but those vintners in the areas where the Starbucks Evenings exist are excited about the potential. Shawn Byrnes, vice president of marketing at Ste. Michelle Wine Estates in Washington is quoted in Wines & Vines saying, “Just do the math. They expect to offer wine at about 2,000 stores eventually. Multiply a couple of glasses a day by 365 days by 2,000 stores. They could become the largest on-premise wine seller in the country.”

Currently, Starbucks Evenings is offered in Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Portland, and Washington D.C. Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Riesling is available in Seattle, Portland, Atlanta, and Los Angeles locations. Across the spectrum, there is a full complement of wine choices along with beer offerings as well.

With Starbucks expanding to sell wine, you can now have coffee in the morning and Chianti in the evening.