United States Becomes ‘world’s biggest wine consumers’

The US overtook France to become the world’s biggest wine-consuming nation in 2010, according to newly-released figures.

Total shipments in the US, including domestically produced and imported wines, reached nearly 330m cases, up 2% on 2009, according to the report from consultants Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates.

Estimated retail value hit US$30bn, up 4% on the previous year, the Gomberg-Fredrikson Report said.

Jon Fredrikson pointed to the success of new ‘creative’ wines in keeping consumers excited, including value-priced Moscato, Pinot Grigio and Riesling, off-dry wines and affordable Pinot Noir from inland parts of California.

Sales of high-end wines remained challenging, he added, but marketers were counteracting this by using social media to target increasingly savvy consumers.

Wines from California accounted for 61% of overall US market volumes at nearly 200m cases, up 1%, with retail value estimated at US$18.5bn.

‘US wine market conditions remain highly competitive, but we are optimistic that this growth trend will continue,’ said Bobby Koch, president and CEO of California’s Wine Institute.

‘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 US wine consumption.’

Champagne and sparkling wine had a ‘remarkable’ year in 2010, said the report, with a sales hike of 10% suggesting that consumers are broadening their use of these wines beyond pure celebration.

Among Califonian wines, Chardonnay remained the leading grape variety, with sales up 5% to more than 53m cases.

Sales of Cabernet Sauvignon rose 6% to nearly 33m cases, and there were notable sales increases for Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Riesling and Muscat.

-Richard Woodard


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