FedEx and UPS aren’t the only companies benefiting from the growing popularity of direct-to-consumer wine sales.

A growing number of rightsholders are benefiting as well.

Case in point: Winc last month announced a new partnership with the Barclays Center that affords status as the venue’s official wine sponsor. The sponsorship follows a partnership with the Hollywood Bowl in 2016.

From all appearances, DTC wine is here to stay. DTC wine shipments rose 18.5 percent to $2.33 billion in 2016, according to the 2017 Direct to Consumer Wine Shipping Report, a collaboration between Sovos ShipCompliant and Wines & Vines.

“There is no better way to describe the performance of direct-to-consumer shipments in 2016 than ‘explosive’, according to the report.

The report attributes growth of DTC wine to three primary factors:

  • The strong economy and more discretionary income
  • The growing number of states that have relaxed laws on DTC wine
  • A five percent increase in the number of U.S. wineries

Further demonstrating the popularity of the DTC sales channel, DTC wine sales outpaced retail sales growth by more than three-to-one in 2016 despite an uptick in the average price per bottle, according to the report.

Forty-five states and the District of Columbia now allow direct wine sales in some form, including relative newcomers Massachusetts, South Dakota and Pennsylvania. California is the leader in winery to consumer orders (representing nearly a third of all direct shipping orders) while Ohio leads the way in most orders per capita.

Winc—which launched as the “world’s first personalized wine club” in 2012 under the name Club W before transitioning into a full-stack wine company in 2014—uses sponsorship to engage young urban professionals.

Winc ships to 43 of the 44 states that allow DTC wine sales and also sells through on-premise accounts.

As such, pouring rights are a key component of Winc partnerships. The company sells through all premium outlets in the Barclays Center including the Billboard Lounge, Honda Club and the AMEX Centurion Lounge, as well as its own wine bar. 

“Our partnerships are primarily about exposure, but we also want to put our wine in the hands of valuable consumers. We feel that our brands bring added value to beverage programs by providing high quality-to-price-ratio wines, great branding and design, correct expressions of varietals and appellations and smart, organically distributed brands across the U.S. market,” said Alex Stuempfig, Winc director of sales.

The company plans to expand its sponsorship portfolio with other venues, he added.

“We look forward to continuing to cultivate partnerships in venues that value our branding, share a consumer base and are looking for the unique opportunity to have an exceptional portfolio of wines within their venue.”