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CALIFORNIA VINTNERS STEP UP MARKETING EFFORTS     

 

 SAN FRANCISCO – U.S. wine exports, 90 percent from California, jumped 26 percent over the previous year to $537 million in 1998, a 448 percent increase from export sales of $98 million a decade ago. In volume terms, U.S. wineries shipped 72 million gallons abroad, a climb in gallonage for the fifth consecutive year.  

 

"The large 1997 harvest allowed California’s vintners to support the growing demand overseas," says Wine Institute International Director Joe Rollo. "There  is increased consumption around the world in more expensive premium wines, and this has contributed to the interest in California wines, which have a reputation for high quality." 

 

Over 125 California wineries export to 165 markets worldwide, with the U.S. ranking as the fourth leading wine producer in the world and the ninth by volume as a wine exporter. There is still room to grow as the U.S. only holds a three  percent share of the world export market by gallonage. Formidable tariffs and distribution regulations limit American access to wine markets in many parts of the world. Yet California vintners are competing successfully with established foreign wine producers who have spent decades building their world wine  markets—usually with substantial government subsidies. 

 

"Despite protectionist measures, most wine export markets have a positive business climate with significant opportunities," says John De Luca, Wine Institute president and CEO. "Global markets are being opened and expanded for California wine as foreign trade becomes more important to the future growth of our industry."  

 The United Kingdom was the largest U.S. wine export market with $143 million in sales last year, a 32 percent jump over 1997, representing over a quarter of the value shipped abroad from the U.S. Exports to Japan surged a whopping 134 percent to $93 million, making it the second largest wine export market for  U.S. wine. Canada was third with $91 million in sales, a 15 percent increase from 1997. 

 

 "Consumers abroad like California’s innovative cuisine and its casual lifestyle.  This, along with increased winery marketing efforts and consistent vintages, have all generated more interest in California wine," says John McLaren, Wine Institute’s trade representative in the United Kingdom. 

 

 "The emergence of discount stores in Japan has increased price competition and, combined with news reports about the health effects of moderate wine consumption, created a boom in wine, despite the recession," says Ken-ichi Hori, Wine Institute’ trade representative in Japan. "Wine has become a symbol of sophistication." 

 

Other markets that experienced significant increases include: the Netherlands, growing 170 percent to $48 million; Switzerland, up 27 percent to $23 million, and Ireland, with sales up 15 percent to $11 million. 

 

Export markets were most interested in California’s packaged table wine  brands. The value of bottled table wine exports grew 37 percent over 1997 to about $421 million, while bulk table wine exports dropped 7 percent to $46 million. Champagne and dessert wine exports rose 29 percent to nearly $33 million, dessert wine and vermouth increased 1 percent to $15 million, and grape must and other fermented beverage exports dropped 17 percent to $23 million in 1998. 


Source: Wine Institute 

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