Although we are now almost four months into 2013, wine statistics are just now trickling in for the 2012 calendar year from entities like the U.S. Treasury’s Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), The Wine Institute — an advocacy group funded by the California wine industry — and statistical tracking professionals like Nielsen and Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates.
All economic indicators look good for wine. Despite the ongoing recession, the wine industry has managed to continue growing, albeit at a slow rate.
Taking into account that wine is now fermented in all 50 states, 752,431,183 gallons of wine were removed from fermentors across the country in 2012, according to TTB. In 2011, 686,477,542 gallons were removed.
Only 551,698,230 gallons were removed from fermentors in 2002. In the past the past 10 years the amount of wine being removed from fermentors has increased by more than 36 percent.
On the sales side, wine sales — both domestic and import — increased 2 percent from the previous year to a new record high of 360.1 million 9-liter cases sold for an estimated retail value of $34.6 billion, according to Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates. The good news for California in this is that almost two-thirds, or 207.7 million of those 360.1 million 9-liter cases came from California.
The U.S. wine market is the largest market by volume in the world and has experienced 19 years of consecutive volume growth. The Nielsen folks who track retail wine data say that wine-selling outlets have increased by 50,000 over the past five years, bringing the total number of wine outlets across the country to 175,000, evidenced by the availability of wine in virtually every retail outlet known to man — including Dollar General.
What is driving America’s growing obsession with wine, aside from the fact that it’s so readily available in even the most isolated and remote areas of America? According to Jancis Robinson, a world renowned wine educator who, along with Linda Murphy, has co-authored a new book entitled “American Wine: The Ultimate Companion to the Wines and Wineries of the United States,” America now has a wine culture.
Charlie Rose of “CBS This Morning” recently interviewed Robinson about her new book. When he asked Robinson her opinion on what was contributing to a decline in wine consumption in traditional wine-consuming countries like Italy and France versus its increased consumption in America, she replied that Europe has a wine culture dating back hundreds of years. Wine is now passé to these countries, but America is still a relative toddler as a winemaking and wine-drinking nation not hitting its stride until the mid-20th century.
As to what wines America is drinking, chardonnay remains the most popular varietal and accounts for 21 percent share of volume. Cabernet takes up the second largest share with 12 percent. Merlot accounts for 9 percent, pinot grigio 8 percent, the increasingly popular Muscat or moscato accounts for 6 percent, and red blends and red sweet wines take 5 percent of the market share with other less popular varietals making up the rest.
The most popular price-per-bottle category remains the $9-$12 range, although both 2011 and 2012 showed some upticks in what consumers are once again willing to pay for a bottle of wine.
Now, after reading all these statistics, likely a glass of wine is required. Go pick up that favorite chardonnay or cabernet in the $9-$12 per bottle range from your favorite wine source and become an active participant in America’s wine culture.
Contact Pat Kettles at firstname.lastname@example.org.