Shipments of California wines within the US rose by 3% in 2018 versus 2017 to an estimated retail value of $40.2bn, said the Wine Institute.
There was also a 3% increase in volumes to 248 million 12-bottle cases, giving California a 61% share of the world’s biggest wine consuming nation.
‘Consumer interest in premium wines continues to be the dominant trend,’ said Wine Institute president Robert Koch.
Boomers vs Millennials
There is debate in the trade about whether millennials will take over from the baby boomer generation, which is credited with driving big increases in wine consumption in the US in recent decades.
‘While sales are still growing, it’s slowing as the boomer generation ages and presumably drinks less,’ said Jon Moramarco, founder and managing partner of drinks industry analysis group BW 166.
‘Wine marketers are working to maintain the interest of boomers and attract gen x’ers and millennials with new and different wines,’ said Moramarco, who is also editor of the Gomberg Fredrikson Report.
Trends to watch
Winery sales direct to consumers grew strongly in 2018, up by 12% to $3bn and by 9% in volume to more than 6m cases.
US consumers are drinking less alcohol but better quality, as a rule, and wine is being sold in 8.5% more locations across the US than five years ago, according to Nielsen data.
‘They are being more mindful of drinking in moderation, thus underlining a trend to smaller serve packaging, and seeking ‘experiences’ in a wide variety of eating and drinking venues,’ said Danny Brager, senior vice president of Nielsen’s Beverage Alcohol Practice Area.
He also highlighted ongoing trends towards online sales plus growing popularity for three-litre boxes and wine in cans.
See also: Concerns for California wine as China raises import tariffs in US trade dispute