Thursday, April 26, 2012

2011 California Wine Shipments Within U.S. Reach All-Time High: U.S. Is World’s Largest Wine Market

From the California wine producer in the Centr...
From the California wine producer in the Central Coast (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sales of California wine within the U.S. in 2011 grew to a record 211.9 million cases, up 5.6 percent in volume compared to the previous year. The estimated retail value of these shipments was $19.9 billion, according to wine industry consultant Jon Fredrikson of Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates in Woodside. Global 2011 California wine sales to all markets in the U.S. and worldwide also increased 5.6 percent to 256.6 million cases.

"California’s vintners grew the wine market with creative, innovative offerings at all price points," said Wine Institute President and CEO Robert P. (Bobby) Koch. "Our wineries are in sync with consumer tastes and California wines have increasingly become a preferred lifestyle choice."

Wineries worldwide competed for consumer attention in the U.S. with thousands of brands—120,000 new wine labels were approved by the U.S. Tax and Trade Bureau last year. Wine sales expanded as Americans were treated to a diverse array of classic and new wine choices including Moscato, sweet reds and other easy-drinking wines with unpretentious packaging. Restaurant business recovered somewhat and value-oriented wines were still key for on-premise offerings. Many marketers focused on new opportunities in the direct-to-consumer channel as the number of states that now accept these shipments has expanded to 39, and apps and other technologies have made it easier for consumers to use these online options, according to Fredrikson.

"Wine consumers are adventuresome by nature so Muscat/Moscato became a popular new flavor to try, experiencing the largest varietal volume gain of the year," commented Danny Brager, vice president of client services for beverage alcohol at The Nielsen Company. The "millennial" consumer, aged 21-34 who make up 26 percent of legal drinking age Americans, continue to be a wine sales growth driver, while Baby Boomers continue to be the largest generations contributor to overall wine sales. Even with the volatile economy, consumers are finding high quality and value in the wine category, and continue to experiment with sweet reds, unoaked wines, wine blends, and other diverse offerings, he explained.

Total wine sales in the U.S. from all production sources—California, other U.S. states and foreign countries—climbed to a new record of 347.0 million cases, a 5.3 percent jump from 2010, with an estimated retail value of $32.5 billion, according to Fredrikson. Of the total, California’s 211.9 million cases held a 61 percent share of the U.S. market. This is the 18th consecutive year of volume growth in the U.S.

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