Imports accounted for about 35% of
U.S. wine sales in 2012, up 11% over
the previous year, and according to The
Wine Economist blog, a 50-50 balance of
domestic and imported wines in the U.S.
market may become reality as soon as 2025.
Several factors are at play here. With
U.S. wine consumption still growing,
even with increased acreage planted,
domestic producers are unlikely to
be able to keep up with demand.
Meanwhile, with European consumption
flat, more suppliers will target the
U.S., with much of the growth coming
from the global bulk wine, which has
surged over the last five years and now
accounts for 45% of all NewWorld wine
trade. Lastly, U.S. wine exports are
up; according to Wine Institute, the
American producers set a new record
in 2012, with wine exports (90% from
California) posting a third consecutive
year of growth, reaching $1.43 billion in
winery revenues and 112.2 million cases.
This trend is likely to accelerate due
to tax factors; for large U.S. firms that
both export and import, tax “drawbacks”
provide incentive to export more, even
as they increase their imports.
If the U.S. does ultimately arrive
at an even balance of imported and
domestic wines, recent ups and downs
among specific categories imply that
it will be difficult to predict what the
product mix will look like. Among the
findings presented by the firm Gomberg,
Fredrikson & Associates at the annual
Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in
January, France and Spain are back. U.S.
consumption of French table wine was
up 4.8% in 2012, after hitting a 10-year
low in 2011. And Spanish imports, which
had not suffered as badly as French
imports in recent years, reached a record
high in 2012, up 6%. Meanwhile, bottled
imports from Argentina were down in
2012 after 11 years of consistent growth.
The trade association ViniPortugal
announced that the value of Portugal’s
exports of table wine to the U.S. increased
15% in the first ten months of 2012 over
the same period in 2011, reaching $29.55
million, up from $25.74 million. Over the
same period, export volume was up 8%—
indicating that Americans consumers of
Portuguese wine are not just drinking
more, they are drinking better.
The Provence Wine Council reports
that exports of Provence rosé to the
U.S. rose 41%, to more than 280,000
cases in the 12 months
ending November 2012.
The category has logged
double-digit U.S. growth
every year since 2003.
Premium bottlings have
been solid: rosés above $12
SRP grew 28% by volume
and 23% by dollar value in
the U.S. in the 52 weeks through
January 5, 2013, according
After a short crop in 2011, the 2012 harvest in
California set records both in terms of volume and
the prices paid for grapes. The total crush for the state
was up 13% overall by volume, with average prices paid
rising 20% to $772.09 per ton. (Napa Valley Cabernet
Sauvignon hit a record high of $5,067 per ton.) In terms
of varietal breakdown, Chardonnay was the leading grape
harvested in California (16% of the state’s total), followed
by Cabernet Sauvignon (11.3%) and Zinfandel (10.3%). But
Pinot Noir was the most notable gainer, up 45% across the
state overall; even more remarkable were yields in coastal areas like
Sonoma (up 85%) and Santa Barbara (up 88%).