U.S. Wines Grow Steadily

Table wines up 7% in a year; Moscato up 25%

By Jim Gordon March 12, 2012
Wines & Vines
Domestic wine sales continued their steady growth in February, registering 7% higher sales over a 52-week period than in the previous year, as reported by Symphony IRI. The short-term growth rate over the four-weeks ending Feb. 19 hit 6%, according to SIRI's analysis of check stand scan data from major food and drug stores in the United States.

Wines & Vines looked at the differences in consumers' varietal preferences from the top shelf to the bargain shelf. Cabernet Sauvignon remained the favorite in the $20-plus category, capturing 34% of the dollars spent on the six top varieties of domestic and imported wines over 52 weeks. Chardonnay was the second choice, earning 27% of sales dollars. Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris at 13% kept a lead on Pinot Noir at 12%. Chardonnay leads bargain segment The mix looked different among table wines priced from $3.50 to $4.99. Here, Chardonnay led with 28% of the sales among the top six varietals, and Cabernet ranked way down the list at fifth. No. 2 was White Zinfandel.

Moscato/Muscat wines sweetened their standing to tie with Merlot for third place in this bargain segment, posting 25% growth vs. a year earlier. Pinot Grigio/Gris held third place among $20-plus wines, growing 14%, while ranking sixth in the bargain wines category and growing 11%. It may be old news to those paying attention, but the whole category of domestic table wines at $20 and higher grew 29% over 52 weeks. Imports in this price segment were also hot, gaining 26% in the same period.

Among all price-points, however, four of nine segments of imports lost at least 1% in dollar sales, while no domestic categories fell. Bottle prices adjust The gains in revenue have come with the help of price reductions among domestic table wines at $20-plus. They came down in price by 98 cents per 750 ml over 52 weeks, while domestic table wines overall rose by 10 cents per bottle. California accounted for 71% of table wine sales, SIRI reported, followed by Australia at 7%, Italy at 6% and Washington at 5%.

Australia, Chile, France and Germany lost dollar sales over the past year, while Argentina and New Zealand grew the fastest. SIRI is a Chicago-based market research firm.