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California to give mid-range wine a big push

The Californian wine industry is going all out to plug the gap of mid-range wines in the UK.

Following on from the success of the Benchmark tastings, which try to highlight the best wines in the £5-10 bracket, the Wine Institute is eager to promote wines in the mid-range price category.

‘We really want to try and push them, they’re our biggest strength but they’re not as prevalent,’ said the Wine Institute director of international marketing Linsey Gallagher at the California Wine annual tasting in London earlier this week.

‘There are a wide variety of great wines; a number of great wines, they just need exposure to consumers and traders. We are hoping they’ll cause a lot of surprise and delight; surprise at the quality and delight at the price.’

With US wine exports exceeding $1bn in 2008, the Wine Institute is continuing its focus outside of the US.

‘I think what I’m seeing from HQ is a stronger focus on exports outside of the US. Even small and medium-sized producers are now much more focussed on the export market, it is now their strategic focus and priority,’ Gallagher told decanter.com.

‘We feel it’s time for us to showcase our wine on a world stage. The UK in particular is our most significant market.’

John McLaren, the Wine Institute’s UK director believes the world recession could present a chance to galvanise the mid-range wines.

‘We haven’t quite established what the effects of the recession are going to be,’ he told decanter.com.

‘There is a danger that if we survive we’ll go back to where we were, but this recession is going to be long enough so that people’s behaviour will change, their buying will change and their culture will change.’

Paul Dolan, winemaker at Mendocino Wine Company, agrees saying that many top tier wine drinkers are moving into the middle-range.

‘We are seeing that consumers seem to be drinking just as much but they seem to be trading down.’

‘The areas that are struggling the most are the high end Cabernets and Pinot Noirs because trade is off by 10-30%.’

Written by Suzannah Ramsdale

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