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The U.S. surpassed France as the world's largest wine-consuming nation in 2010, with wine shipments to the U.S. from California, other states and foreign producers growing 2% from the previous year to nearly 330 million cases, a record high for the industry, according to wine industry consultants Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates in Woodside. The estimated retail value of these sales was $30 billion, up 4% from 2009.
California wine accounted for a 61% volume share of the total U.S. wine market with sales at 199.6 million cases, up 1% from the previous year. Retail value was $18.5 billion. California's total wine shipments worldwide to all markets in the U.S. and abroad (including exports) were 241.8 million cases, up 2% from the previous year.
"U.S. wine market conditions remain highly competitive, but we are optimistic that this growth trend will continue. Americans are increasingly interested in a lifestyle with wine and food, demonstrated by the presence of wineries in all 50 states and 17 consecutive years of growth in U.S. wine consumption," said Robert P. (Bobby) Koch, President and CEO of Wine Institute.
"This year we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the CBS TV 60 Minutes news broadcast on French Paradox news report which expanded awareness of how moderate wine consumption can be part of a healthy lifestyle. Wine consumption is still a low 2.6 gallons per capita, but the adult population is growing every year as echo boomers come of age and adopt wine just as their baby boomer parents did," said Jon Fredrikson of The Gomberg-Fredrikson Report.
Many new creative wines were introduced last year to keep consumers excited, including value-priced Moscato, Pinot Grigio, Riesling and off-dry wines, as well as affordable Pinot Noir from inland California regions. Sales of high-end wines remained challenging, but marketers used social media technology to reach increasingly wired consumers, said Fredrikson.
California Varietal Table Wine Trends
Fredrikson estimates for California bottled table wine volume to the U.S. market by varietal were led by Chardonnay, up 5% to over 53 million cases. Cabernet Sauvignon also grew rapidly, rising 6% to nearly 33 million cases. Other California bottled varietals growing notably in sales included Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Riesling and Muscat.
Sparkling Wine/Champagne Sales in the U.S.
Sparkling wine and champagne had a remarkable year, up 10% in the U.S, suggesting that consumers may be broadening their use of these wines beyond special occasions. The category's 15.4 million cases represent 4.6% of all wine sales in the U.S., of which the majority is produced in California, according to The Gomberg-Fredrikson Report.
U.S. Wine Exports Rebound
In 2010, U.S. wine exports, 90 percent from California, jumped 25.6% in value to an estimated $1.14 billion in winery revenues. Volume shipments rose 1.9% to 47.3 million nine-liter cases, according to U.S. Department of Commerce data. U.S. wine export volume has nearly doubled in the last decade.
Thirty-eight percent of U.S. wine exports by value were shipped to the 27-member countries of the European Union, accounting for $435 million of the revenues, up 14% from 2009. Volume shipments to the EU reached 27.6 million cases in 2010, up 11% from the previous year. Changes in the dollar exchange rate, a gradually recovering economy and California's effective marketing and high wine quality have helped exports rebound. Other top markets were: Canada, $308 million; Hong Kong, $116 million; Japan, $76 million; and China, $45 million.