California wine sales reach $40 billion in United States

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Despite a slowdown in overall wine sales, shipments of California wine grew 3% last year in the United States to a total of 248 million cases, an industry trade group announced Monday.

Sales of all wine rose just 1 percent last year, but California wine — which accounted for 61% of the wine consumed last year by Americans — continues to dominate the U.S. market, according to figures released by the Wine Institute, the trade group for California wineries.

U.S. consumers spent $40.2 billion on wine from the Golden State last year, a 3.9% increase, the group reported.

By comparison, they spent $27.9 billion on all other types of wine, including foreign imports and wine made in other states.

“Consumer interest in premium wines continues to be the dominant trend,” said Robert “Bobby” Koch, Wine Institute president and CEO, in a statement. “As consumers trade up, our California wines are emphasizing high quality, value and sustainable winegrowing.”

The wine business has grown 3% to 4% annually in recent years as consumers have been switching from beer to wine, said Jon Moramarco, founder and managing partner of bw 166, a Santa Rosa wine consulting firm. But he cautioned those rates will likely decrease in future years.

“Going forward, I don’t think we are going to see that same share shift,” Moramarco said.

The industry, however, should still benefit from consumers buying more expensive wine that will increase the overall value of the U.S. wine market, he said. “The consumer spending has been going up faster than volume growth,” Moramarco said.

One bright spot for the industry: there are also more places to drink wine. More outlets, such as movie theaters and grocery stores, are selling wine that is consumed on their premises, said Danny Brager, senior vice president of Nielsen’s beverage alcohol practice area.

There are now 567,000 locations in the country that sell wine both to-go as well as on their premises, an 8.5% increase from five years ago.

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