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US wine drinkers seeing beyond domestic market?

Wine drinkers in the US are waking up to wines from abroad, a new study suggests.

While decanter.com reports that two out of three wines drunk in the US are Californian, according to market research compiled by Chicago-based Information Resources Inc (IRI), wines from Europe and New Zealand are gaining ground on their US counterparts.

The study, entitled The 2005 Table Wine Top 30 Brand Performers, attempted to identify the most influential US wine brands of last year. The results were based on a wide range of factors including sales, distribution and marketing.

To qualify for the study, brands had to sell a minimum of 100,000 9l cases, or 1.2m bottles during the year ending January 1 2006.

‘The breath of table wine brands across price segments, countries and styles demonstrate that the US Wine market has embraced diversity,’ IRI vice president Dan Wandel told decanter.com.

European table wines showed strong growth (9.4%), despite the average price increasing by 5.5% to $7.14 during 2005.

The southern United States contributed most significantly to dollar growth of European table wine, accounting for $23.8m (£13.5m) of sales. In the Los Angeles area alone, dollar sales of European table wines grew by nearly a quarter.

‘European Table Wine growth appeared to be due to a variety of factors including increased merchandising support, higher distribution and an overall increase in pricing,’ Wandel said.

Dollar sales of Spanish table wines grew by 23.1% while German wines grew by 18.9%.

New Zealand wines posted the best result, growing by an astonishing 190.5% in the same period.

The domestic big-hitters, however, remain top of the pile. ‘Constellation Wines and E & J Gallo brands dominated the ranking, with five brands making the ranking from each supplier in 2005.  It appears that economies of scale and efficiencies through consolidation may be contributing to the overall success of the category,’ Wandel said.

Wandel identifies increased retail presence, merchandising support, and distribution as key movers behind the growth of the US table wine market.

Written by Emmet Cole

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