Winebits 158: Wine salaries, wine sales, wine bootlegging

? Salaries decrease: Unless, of course, you were a big shot. Wine Business Monthly's 2010 Salary Survey Report found that wine industry salaries increased 3.3 percent this year, fueled by bonus payouts that averaged 24.5 percent. Without the the bonuses, overall salaries decreased 1.3 percent over 2009. Bonus pay between 2009 and 2010 increased 29.8 percent for executives, although winemakers saw their salaries fall 1 percent and vineyard managers saw a 4 percent decrease. Is it any wonder the wine business is in trouble?

? Sales up: Consumers seem to be buying more wine, according to figures compiled by Wines & Vines magazine. Domestic table wine, as measured by dollar sales, increased 6 percent between October 2009 and October 2010. Wine that cost $20 or more saw 22 percent growth over the past year, but also saw the average price go down almost a dollar a bottle. In other words, consumers who traded down are may be starting to trade back up — if the prices are cheap enough. In addition, sales finally look have recovered to 2008 levels. Did all those executives who got bonuses figure on that?

? British bootleg wine: Yet another example of why there will always be an England. The UK Border Agency says it seized thousands of liters of wine from smugglers. Among the contraband: nearly 13,000 liters of Spanish wine (about 1450 cases), described as "car parts." And the story gets better. The confiscated wine will be turned into fertilizer, and the bottles recycled. Well done.

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