Domestic Wine Grew 8% in August

By Jim Gordon September 4, 2012
Wines & Vines
Off-premise sales of domestic table wine grew in August by 8% over the same month in 2011, while 52-week sales rose 7%.

The continued success of one of the biggest selling varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon, buoyed the numbers significantly-especially in the three highest priced segments, according to the Symphony IRI Group (SIG).

Cabernet took the second-biggest market share of all varietals with 14%, lagging only behind Chardonnay (23%), in the 52 weeks ending Aug. 5. Sales of Cabernet 750ml bottles from all regions increased by 9% during that period and earned the highest bottle price hike of 32 cents at the same time.

The full-bodied red varietal wine's growth did not come from the lower price points, where it actually shrank slightly, but from wines priced at $8 and above. Rates of sales increases rose, too: The higher the price on a bottle of Cabernet, the faster it grew.

30% growth at high end Cabernet sales swelled by 6% in 52 weeks at $8-$10.99, but at the top end they ballooned by 30% for $20-plus wines, a category in which Cabernet is the dominant varietal. Packaged in 750ml bottles, it averaged $114 per case and $9.48 per bottle at major U.S. food and drug stores where sales are analyzed by SIG.

Zinfandel scored the highest average 750ml bottle price, with a 52-week average of $10.20 per bottle vs. runner-up Pinot Noir at $10.12 and $9.49 for Sauvignon Blanc.

Stores sold a relatively small amount of Zinfandel in 52 weeks-$139 million, compared to Fume/Sauvignon Blanc at $284 million and Cabernet at nearly $1 billion-but producers of California's heritage varietal may be feeling pretty good about their pricing, which grew by 18 cents per bottle.

Domestic table wines in general rose in price by 26 cents per bottle or $3.15 per case. Revenue increased by 7%, while volume grew only 3%, according to SIG, the Chicago-based market research firm.

Riesling, Syrah/Shiraz and white Zinfandel were the biggest percentage losers by varietal. Syrah/Shiraz wines dropped 13% in 52 weeks. Not coincidentally, sales of wines from Australia, the home of Shiraz and the biggest import country in the SIG data, decreased 5% over 52 weeks.

Price points
Domestic table wine in the $5-$7.99 price range brought in the most money of any price category and grew 5% in the recent four weeks, but the higher priced categories were really fueling the fire:
. 12% for $8-$10.99
. 11% for $11-$14.99
. 10% for $15-$19.99
. 20% for $20 plus.

The perennially fast-growing $20-plus segment is still soaring but has slowed from its 52-week growth rate of 25%.