READER REQUEST: Watering Holes

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To the Editors of American Demographics:

I am doing research on the wine industry and want to know which locales have the highest correlation between income and wine consumption. I think that New York City and San Francisco would be among the top places where oenophiles with higher incomes congregate, but I want to learn what other places might be on the list.

Samuel S. Hageman

Banc of America Securities

Charlotte, N.C.

Dear Samuel:

For the most part, wine consumers and the wealthy are one and the same. According to New York City-based market research firm Mediamark Research, Inc., individuals whose annual household income exceeds $200,000 are 86 percent more likely than the average American to drink wine (including domestic and imported dinner and table wines as well as champagne, cold duck and other sparkling varieties). In fact, 52 percent of adults in the highest income bracket say they drink wine compared with 28 percent of those who earn between $50,000 and $74,999 and only 15 percent of Americans who bring home less than $25,000 a year.

That being said, one might assume that places with a high concentration of wealthy individuals are also typically home to more than their fair share of oenophiles. But just to make sure, we asked our friends at San Diego-based research firm Claritas to scour the U.S. for locales populated by individuals who are at least twice as likely as the average American to claim household earnings of $500,000 or more annually and whose propensity to drink imported wine is at least 50 percent greater than average. (Unfortunately, we were unable to set our sights on wine drinkers overall and chose to concentrate on those who drink the typically more pricey, imported brands rather than the domestic brands.) The 19 counties that meet these criteria are listed in the accompanying chart.

As you guessed, New York City and San Francisco are locations where residents have both high incomes and a predilection for downing imported vino. Seven of the 19 counties identified by Claritas are located within the New York City metropolitan area, and four are in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Boston and Washington, D.C., metro areas have two counties and four counties, respectively, in the top 19. Residents of Orange County, Calif. (just outside of Los Angeles), and of Lake County, Ill. (just outside of Chicago), round out the list.


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