Exports of US wine overcame a strong dollar to enjoy a record year in 2015, with value up 7.6% to US$1.61bn, show figures from the Wine Institute.


US wine exports hit 461m litres in volume last year, with about 90% of the totals accounted for by wines from California, said the state’s Wine Institute.

The 28 states of the European Union led the way with imports totalling $622m, ahead of Canada on $461m, Hong Kong ($97m), Japan ($96m) and China ($56m).

Exports of US and California wine to the UK increased by 28% in value versus 2014.

Linsey Gallagher, the Wine Institute’s vice president international marketing, said more than 170 California wineries were now exporting to 138 countries.

She added: ‘California wine exports have increased 91% by value in the last decade and we’re seeing a “premiumisation” trend, with dollar sales outpacing volume growth.

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US wine exports in 2015, top markets

‘This growth is occurring despite heavily-subsidised foreign competitors, high tariffs and strong dollar.’

Tom LaFaille, international trade counsel at the Wine Institute, said efforts were continuing to tackle discriminatory trade barriers around the world.

‘Unfortunately, more and more countries and provinces are “modernising” their laws to benefit only local wine producers,’ he said.

US and California wine exports during 2015:

  • In Canada, the US claimed the largest share of table wine imports, overtaking France and Italy for the first time.
  • Almost all markets in Continental Europe were up, with Germany’s revenues rising 32%.
  • Value rises are now outstripping volume growth in the UK. The import value increase of 28% is attributed to a shift in emphasis to the on-trade and independent retail sectors.
  • Supply was a major challenge in Japan during the first quarter, thanks to an industrial dispute at West Coast ports in the US.
  • Declines in China are attributed to falling imports of lower-priced wines due to overstocking. Sales of higher-priced wines were described as ‘quite healthy’.