Where do beer or wine drinkers live, and what kind of lifestyles do they lead? In an ongoing series of consumer and business insights, Infogroup ranked top beer and wine cities in the U.S., utilizing Infogroup’s verified business database of more than 15 million records. The study analyzed U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs1) of more than 1 million in population based on their concentration of beer and wine businesses per 10,000 residents. Further, each metro area was classified as a beer or wine city based on which is more prevalent in that metro area. Finally, Infogroup compared consumer demographics and interests between beer and wine cities and the top 10 of both based on Infogroup's consumer database of more than 150 million households.
The types of industries targeted as being closely related to beer businesses were:
- breweries including craft and microbreweries
- beer and ale – retail
The types of industries targeted as being closely related to wine businesses were:
- wines – retail
Metro Areas Drink Preference - Metro Areas with Population Greater than 1 Million
As there are more wine businesses nationwide than beer businesses, there are also more wine cities than beer cities, see map and table below.
Top 10 Beer and Wine Metro Areas
The top 10 metro areas (with a population of at least 1 million residents) for each category are listed below. Portland tops the list in both categories as the top beer and wine city. Seattle and Cincinnati make a strong showing, as they each make the top 10 in both lists.
Top 10 Metro Areas (Population Greater than 1 Million) for Both Beer and Wine
Consumer Demographics and Lifestyle Interests
When looking at all metro areas with a population of at least 1 million, the metro areas that prefer beer have a higher percentage of homeowners and a slightly higher percentage of married households and families with children than metro areas that prefer wine. On the other hand, metro areas that prefer wine have a higher average income and home value and also a slightly higher percentage of college graduates.
It is interesting to note that metro areas that prefer wine have a higher cost of living than beer metro areas. Residents of wine metro areas have an average purchasing power that is $11K lower than their average income, which means that every dollar they earn doesn't go as far as it would in an area with an average cost of living. Despite having a higher average income, the average purchasing power in wine metro areas is actually lower than it is in beer metro areas. In beer metro areas, there is almost no difference between their average income and average purchasing power. These same demographic trends are also noticeable when comparing only the top 10 beer metro areas to the top 10 wine metro areas (with a population of at least 1 million).
Based on these demographic findings, we explored the lifestyle interests of residents of all metro areas with a population of at least 1 million, as measured by the concentration of the highest scoring households on selected TargetReady models2. Some areas of interest to compare include travel, pet ownership, eating/dining out, entertainment, and health and fitness. Residents of wine metro areas show a higher propensity for traveling (especially cruises and foreign travel), joining physical fitness clubs, and practicing yoga and Pilates. On the other hand, residents of beer metro areas show a slightly higher propensity for pet ownership (for both dogs and cats) and eating out at family restaurants. Residents of beer metro areas are also more likely to prefer country music concerts for their entertainment, while residents of wine metro areas prefer live theater and classical musical concerts. Just as with the demographic data, the same trends with lifestyle interests are evident when comparing only the top 10 beer metro areas to the top 10 wine metro areas (with a population of at least 1 million residents).
Among metro areas with a population of more than 1 million, there is a significantly strong and positive relationship between the concentration of beer businesses to the concentration of wine businesses. This means that if a metro area has a higher concentration of beer businesses, it will also tend to have a higher concentration of wine businesses, and vice versa. So Portland isn’t the only place to go if you’re having a tough time deciding between beer and wine. In the image below, the size of the circles corresponds to the population of each metro area, and the color corresponds to the beer or wine preference – yellow for beer, red for wine. The trend line shows the overall pattern.
Scatterplot - Beer Count vs. Wine Count, Metro Areas With Population Greater Than 1 Million
Finally, we ranked and analyzed all metro areas (regardless of population) on their concentration of breweries and beer retail shops. States like Colorado and Oregon have developed a reputation as a destination for craft beer lovers, so it wasn’t a surprise to see both states have multiple cities in the top 10. Michigan and the rest of the Pacific Northwest have also developed a positive reputation with beer fans. More information on each of the smaller beer cities follows.
Heat Map - Rank of All Metro Areas by Beer Businesses per 10k
Top 10 Beer Cities
Below are the top 10 U.S. metro areas (with a population of at least 1 million residents) for beer.
When it comes to beer, Portland doesn’t mess around, boasting more breweries and independent microbreweries than any other city in the world. Known as a beer paradise or “beervana” by many, Portland attributes its current craft beer boom back to the 80’s when BridgePort Brewing and Widmer Brothers Brewing opened facilities in what is known now as the Pearl District.
Denver is host to the Great American Beer Festival, one of largest beer festivals in the country. Beer enthusiasts can also visit the Denver Beer Triangle located by the Rocky Mountain Front Range between Boulder, Fort Collins and Denver, where you can find more than 72 breweries, including Coors Brewing Company.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
In 2014, USA TODAY named Grand Rapids the Best Beer Town and Best Beer Scene due to their focus on and passion for locally crafted beer. Some of the local beer titans in this city include Founders, Grand Rapids Brewing Co. and Brewery Vivant.
The proliferation of craft breweries in Seattle provides for locals consistent opportunity to try new creations. Some highlights include Georgetown Brewing and Fremont Brewing. Their secret? Locals say that nothing compares to Seattle hops, which they claim makes their beer among the best.
Known as the Motor City due to the expansion of the automobile industry, Detroit’s strong immigrant and blue collar roots are also linked to a great history of beer that has been kept alive by its locals. Detroit Beer Company and Motor City Brewing Works are some of the locals’ favorites.
Raleigh, North Carolina
For a little over a decade, Raleigh’s beer scene has grown rapidly. After Pop the Cap’s grass-roots effort to raise the alcohol-by-volume ceiling on beer to 15 percent from 6 percent in 2005 succeeded, Raleigh’s beer scene expanded to allow brewers’ imaginations to go wild.
San Diego, California
San Diegans are proud of their contribution to the beer world with Vinnie Cilurzo’s first ever double IPA in 1994. As a result, the international brewing community has taken note and the popular Stone Brewing now has a location in Berlin to meet the demand for their “San Diego-style” beer.
Cincinnati’s beer history traces back to the mid-1800’s when the so-called “beer barons” built empires that would last until the Prohibition era. Decades later, the city still offers one of the best beer scenes in the country where aficionados can appreciate both the product and the legacy.
You know a city takes beer seriously when one of their sports teams takes the name of their favorite drink. A popular beer destination in the Midwest, Milwaukee has been home to some of the most popular and largest brewers in United States such as Schlitz, Miller and Pabst.
Pittsburgh, or the Steel City, is another town known for its blue collar roots. This city traces its history in the beer industry to the 1800’s when Pittsburgh Brewing Company opened its doors in 1844. For the past three years, a group of beer advocates has been focusing their efforts on building an official beer museum, BREW: The Museum of Beer.
Top 10 Wine Cities
Wine’s popularity is still growing strong. Below are the top 10 U.S. metro areas (with a population of at least 1 million residents) for wine.
Portland ranks not only as the number one city for beer but also for wine. Sitting on the Columbia and Willamette rivers, Oregon’s largest city is just 30 minutes away from more than 250 wineries with amazing scenery and beverages to match.
San Francisco, California
San Francisco is home to two legendary winery cities, Napa and Sonoma, both of which are about an hour outside of San Francisco. Over the past 20 years, San Francisco has revived its love for making wine in the city, fueled largely by grapes from Napa and Sonoma.
Woodinville Wine Country, just 30 minutes outside of the “Emerald City,” is home to more than 900 wineries and is the second largest premium wine producer in the U.S.
The Sacramento Valley was discovered by Spanish explorers in the 1500's and runs for approximately 120 miles from Red Bluff in the northern end of the valley to the city of Sacramento. The region has about 7,300 acres of wine grapes.
Rochester, New York
Rochester is home to Finger Lakes Wine County in Upstate New York, south of Lake Ontario. The Finger Lakes is a world-class wine-producing region that specializes in aromatic white varieties like Riesling and Gewurztraminer. The Finger Lakes area is New York’s largest wine-producing region, accounting for 85 percent of the state’s total production and home to more than 120 wineries.
San Jose, California
Cradled by the beautiful Santa Cruz Mountains and South Bay, San Jose is California’s oldest wine-growing region. It is also home to more than 150 wineries within a 35-mile radius of San Jose.
Washington, District of Columbia
Just 30 minutes away from D.C., there are more than 250 wineries located in Virginia, making it the fifth largest grape-producing state in the country. Grape varieties in the east tend to be planted in clay and loam soils while western vineyards are granite-based. Virginia also has a reputation for growing grapes other regions find difficult to cultivate such as Voignier, Petit Verdot and Nebbiolo.
The Connecticut Wine Trail is home to more than 25 wineries that grow Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Riesling, Seval Blanc, Vidal Blanc, Cayuga, Saint Croix, Vignoles and Foch grape varieties.
Cincinnati can be thankful to Nicholas Longworth, a lawyer from the Cincinnati area and a pioneer in the commercial wine industry. Longworth planted Catawba grapes in Cincinnati above the Ohio River in the early 1800’s. These grapes produced a semi-sweet wine that quickly made this region the leading producer of wine by 1859, with more than 3,000 acres of grapes.