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California to smash records as sales surge

Wine exports from California are set to smash all previous records in 2011 after a 23% surge in shipments in the first 10 months of the year.

According to the Wine Institute of California, by the end of October US wine exports – 90%-plus of them from California – had already matched the record total of US$1.14bn for the whole of last year, boosted by a weak dollar and soaring sales in China.

That represents a 23% increase on the figures for January to October 2010, on top of a 25.6% rise in export revenues for the whole of 2010.

Last year was also only the second time that exports had broken through the $1bn barrier, encouraging California’s producers to believe that they can reach their long- term target of exporting $2bn-worth of wine by 2020.

If current growth rates continue in the last two months of 2011, which represent California’s busiest trading period in the run-up to Christmas, exports for the year could top $1.4bn.

More than one-third of California’s wine exports by value are sent to the 27 member states of the European Union, but despite the debt crisis engulfing the euro zone and the recent sales decline in the crucial UK market, the weak dollar is helping to maintain producers’ competitive edge.

Meanwhile, exports to China have surged up 35% in the year to date and now account for about 5% of all exports.

And shipments to Canada have built on strong growth during 2010, bringing in about $300m of revenue in the year to date, substantially up on last year’s 12-month total of just over $240m.

Written by Richard Woodard

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