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California delights in decade of UK growth

California's wine industry was in jubilant mood today as it published research showing its sales in the UK had increased eight-fold in the last decade – at the expense of Old World producers.

The Wine Institute of California said research it had commissioned from industry analysts AC Nielsen showed sales of Californian wines to the UK off-trade (ie shops and supermarkets) had increased eight times since 1992. The Sunshine State now has 10% of the market in the UK – the first time it has broken through this barrier.

At the same time, the Institute said, France, Germany and Italy’s share of the UK market has declined from 73% in 1992 to 38% today – a drop of almost half. ‘This decline is against a backdrop of sharply rising wine sales in the UK – up 84% over the last 10 years,’ a press statement said.

According to the research the UK market share of French wine declined by 34%, Italian by 38% and German wine by 74%.

California’s gains and the decline for the traditional suppliers of the UK wine market indicated a ‘relentless rise’, the Wine Institute said.

John McLaren, the UK-based director of the Wine Institute of California, was disdainful of European efforts to compete with behemoths such as Gallo (the world’s biggest wine producer), and its fellow producers.

‘Californian winemakers are united in their willingness to embrace new technology, and do not feel constrained by Old World customs and practises, building new and exciting brands such as Gallo, Blossom Hill and Fetzer,’ he said today at the London International Wine and Spirits Fair.

‘Contrast this with the old world where, in the face of 10 years of increasing competition, innovation, and declining sales they have seen fit to repackage and relaunch wines such as Piat d’Or, Black Tower and Blue Nun.’

Written by Adam Lechmere20 May 2003

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