January 29, 2016 – The good news is wine sales continued their 20 years of growth in the USA in 2015. With the explosion of the cocktail culture, craft beers plus cider, there were gloomy mutterings about wine losing its market share, especially among millennials who are the future of everything.
Turns out 2015 was a good year with two percent growth in domestic wine sales. Not a lot but at least it was in the right direction. In numbers we might relate to, it means 383 million cases worth $38 billion in sales. The sales cover retail, restaurant, and direct to consumer by wineries. That last category is now worth an amazing $2 billion, again with a “B”. That figure should send a message to control states (where retail sales are run by the state government) and to mega-distributors who control what gets sold, that the public likes choice and will pay shipping charges to exercise it.
People are drinking better and as a result, one area of domestic wine not doing too well is the under $9 a bottle category. Much of this wine originates in California’s central valley and after the 2015 harvest, 20,000 acres of vines were pulled out on top of 21,000 acres pulled in 2014. Farmers are going nuts, literally, planting almonds, walnuts and pistachios, which are more profitable.
World of Wines, Seattle, WA
Now let’s add in sales of imported wines which account for 31 percent of the market, and the sales figures jump to $53 billion. The five leaders in imported wines are Italy followed by France, New Zealand, Spain and Portugal. Right now imports are enjoying the strong dollar making foreign wines more affordable.
One of the biggest growth categories was sparkling wine up 10 percent over 2014. Prosecco alone grew by one million cases. Maybe Americans are moving beyond saving the bubbles for special occasions. Quite a lot of cocktails use sparkling wine (you can find recipes on our Entertaining page) so perhaps that is another reason for growth.
Finally, what about those millennials? There’s hope! In a recent survey young women said wine was their favorite alcohol beverage. Whew! That’s a relief.