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US Passes France In Wine Consumption

Gus

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What took so long?


March 15 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. passed France as the world's largest wine-consuming nation for the first time, lifted by its bigger population and an interest in wine-and-cheese culture among young Americans.

Wine shipments to the U.S. climbed 2 percent to 329.7 million cases last year, according to Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates, a wine-industry consulting firm in Woodside, California. That compares with 320.6 million for France.

While the French still eclipse Americans in per-capita consumption, the U.S. wine industry is benefiting from a domestic population of almost 311 million people -- five times the size of France's -- and a surge of young people becoming interested in the drink. Marketers also are using social media to reach a new generation of consumers, said Jon Fredrikson, the firm's president.

"Wine is really gaining traction in the U.S. -- it's becoming an accepted part of everyday life," Fredrikson said in an interview. "That's a radical change over the past two decades."

The retail value of U.S. wine sales rose 4 percent to $30 billion in 2010, according to Gomberg Fredrikson. California's output accounted for 61 percent of the volume. The state's worldwide wine shipments climbed 2 percent to 241.8 million cases.

Prime Target

"With the U.S. being the biggest, it means we're a target for everyone in America and around the world that produces wine," Fredrikson said. "Everyone wants to be here."

The history of wine in France stretches back thousands of years, fostered by prime growing conditions, the drink's role in the Catholic Church and its popularity among all different social classes. The French drank about 14 gallons on average in 2008, the latest year with figures available from the Wine Institute, a trade group in San Francisco. That compares with 2.6 gallons for Americans.

Chardonnay was the best-selling varietal in the U.S. last year, with $2.03 billion in revenue, according to Nielsen Co., followed by cabernet sauvignon with $1.38 billion. Bottles priced at $20 or more rose the most last year, gaining 11 percent over 2009, though the biggest category of wine sales was the $3-to-$5.99 range, Nielsen said.

Pinot Noir

The fastest-growing varietals were pinot noir, riesling and sauvignon blanc, which all rose more than 9 percent, according to Nielsen. In terms of imports, wines from Argentina and New Zealand had the biggest gains, at more than 24 percent.

"If you look back 10 years ago, the on-ramp into the wine industry was white zinfandel. Now it's really not so much that case," said Dale Stratton, vice president of strategic insights for Constellation Brands Inc., the world's biggest maker of wine costing more than $5 a bottle.

The millennial generation -- consumers in their 20s and 30s -- are reaching for more traditional varietals and pricier bottles, he said.

"There's no question that the millennial consumer is participating in the category at a much greater level than previous generations," Stratton said. "The consumer is very much bringing wine into more occasions, and they are participating in the wine category in a more frequent basis."
 

kwilkinson

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My per capita consumption could beat any Frog's. I'm doing my part for the greater good!
 

Piobaire

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Good article; thanks for posting it.

As to why it took so long...don't forget, I was not born here and had to immigrate. Now that I'm here, US is #1 in consumption!
 

gomestar

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Originally Posted by pocketsquareguy
the biggest category of wine sales was the $3-to-$5.99 range, Nielsen said.

facepalm.gif
 

Hombre Secreto

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For you serious wine drinkers... How good is the quality of wine coming out of California?
 

kwilkinson

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Originally Posted by Hombre Secreto
For you serious wine drinkers... How good is the quality of wine coming out of California?
It ranges from horrible, to okay, to good, to very good, to world class, to way overpriced.
 

Mark from Plano

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Originally Posted by kwilkinson
My per capita consumption could beat any Frog's. I'm doing my part for the greater good!

+1. I seriously don't think it would be a good idea for me to try to take up any more slack for the rest of you MFers. You guys are going to have to start carrying your own weight. Kyle and I are maxxed out.
 

Mark from Plano

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Originally Posted by kwilkinson
It ranges from horrible, to okay, to good, to very good, to world class, to way overpriced.

Just like France.
 

gomestar

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Originally Posted by Hombre Secreto
For you serious wine drinkers... How good is the quality of wine coming out of California?

for everyday <$20 bottles I never buy California since, IMO, france/Italy produces much better wine for the price.
 

Hombre Secreto

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Originally Posted by kwilkinson
It ranges from horrible, to okay, to good, to very good, to world class, to way overpriced.

What are some of the world class labels?
 

kwilkinson

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Originally Posted by Hombre Secreto
What are some of the world class labels?
Merry Edwards, Peay, Sea Smoke, Diamond Creek, Lynmar, Williams Selyem, Hirsch, Sine Qua Non, Aubert, to name a few. Please note that world class often means overpriced--- in any country.
 

Hombre Secreto

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Originally Posted by kwilkinson
Merry Edwards, Peay, Sea Smoke, Diamond Creek, Lynmar, Williams Selyem, Hirsch, Sine Qua Non, Aubert, to name a few. Please note that world class often means overpriced--- in any country.

Gracias
 

foodguy

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Originally Posted by kwilkinson
Merry Edwards, Peay, Sea Smoke, Diamond Creek, Lynmar, Williams Selyem, Hirsch, Sine Qua Non, Aubert, to name a few. Please note that world class often means overpriced--- in any country.

oooh, kwilky. those are definitely big-names and in some cases very good. but i would definitely dispute sea smoke -- not nearly enough of a track record -- and diamond creek -- plenty of track record, but having had them up to 20 years old, never had one near maturity; who knows if they'll ever become drinkable? sine qua non makes really unusual wines, and i've had some good ones, but i don't know that i would put them in world class. mark aubert and merry edwards are great wine makers. and williams-sellyem did not fall part when burt and ed sold it, as many expected it would. i would probably add phelps (quality plus track record), maybe dunn, peter michael (former aubert), kalin, hanzell?, kistler ... i'm sure i'm missing probably twice as many as i've included, but that's an off-the-top-of-my-head listing.
 

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