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."
(For more California's 2012 wine grape crop, see here.)
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.
Varietal Trends in U.S. Off-Premise Food, Drug, Convenience and Retail Chains
Wine sales in U.S. off-premise measured channels from all domestic and foreign production sources grew 2 percent on volume and almost 4 percent on value, according to Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy. Most of the growth was with wines from California and other U.S. states, up 4 percent in volume, while imports shrunk 1 percent in volume. Within Table wine, Chardonnay remained the most popular with 21 percent of the volume, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon, 12 percent volume share; Merlot, 10 percent volume share, Pinot Grigio/Gris, 8 percent market share, and White Zinfandel, 7 percent market share. The most impressive percentage gains were Muscat/Moscato now up close to 4 percent market share, and growing by 73 percent on volume, and sweet red wines, close to a 1 percent share, with growth over 200 percent. Also of note among varietals with double digit gains were Malbec, holding a 1 percent share, up 33 percent in volume and Pinot Noir, a 4 percent share and growing 12 percent in volume. Blended Red wines also grew at double digit levels and moved up close to a 5 percent market share.
"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.
U.S. is world’s largest wine market
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.
Sparkling Wine and Champagne
Shipments of sparkling wine and champagne were the highest in the last 25 years, reaching 17.2 million cases, up 13 percent over the previous year. Strong sales came from a variety of different producers and regions worldwide. Prosecco and sparkling Moscato were among the winners, but champagnes, other sparkling wines and California methode champenoise wines also experienced gains.
U.S. Wine Exports Hit Record High
U.S. wine exports, 90 percent from California, reached a new record of $1.39 billion in winery revenues in 2011, an increase of 21.7 percent compared to 2010. Volume shipments were up 5.8 percent to 455.7 million liters or 50.6 million nine-liter cases. Thirty-four percent of U.S. wine exports by value were shipped to the 27-member countries of the European Union, accounting for $478 million of the revenues, up 10% percent from 2010. Other top markets were: Canada, $379 million, up 23 percent; Hong Kong, $163 million, up 39 percent; Japan, $105 million, up 39 percent; and China, $62 million, up 42 percent.