Wine exports rebound

February 22, 2011


California’s wine business is booming again setting a new record in 2010, following a gloomy 2009.

U.S. wine exports shot up 25.6 percent in 2010 to a record $1.14 billion in winery revenues, according to the San Francisco-based Wine Institute. Volume shipments rose 1.9 percent to 425.5 million liters or 47.3 million nine-liter cases.

U.S winery revenues passed the billion dollar mark in 2008 but in 2009 that number fell short to $912 million in revenue—a 9.5 percent decrease in value from the year before. In addition, volume shrank 14.9 percent.

The majority—90 percent of U.S wine exports are from California. Several San Luis Obispo County wineries export internationally including Hope Family Wines, Eberle Winery, Justin Vineyards, Kenneth Volk Vineyards, Vina Robles Winery, Robert Hall Winery, EOS Estate Winery, Peachy Canyon Winery and L’Adventure Winery.

“These Paso Robles wineries have a great history and understanding of the need and distribution for international sales. These are brands that are well positioned for that. We have other brands that are interested and will likely get to that point,” said Christopher Taranto, communications manager for the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance.

The Wine Institute attributes the rebound partly to changes in the dollar exchange rate, a gradually recovering economy, California’s effective marketing campaigns and high quality wine.

Thirty-eight percent of U.S. wine exports by value were shipped to the 27-member countries of the European Union in 2010, accounting for $435 million of the revenues, up 14 percent from 2009.

Volume shipments to the EU reached 27.6 million cases in 2010, up 11 percent from the previous year.

Canada was the second top market for the U.S. with $308 million imported from the states, followed by Hong Kong’s $116 million, Japan’s $76 million and China’s $45 million.

The Wine Institute is hoping California will lead the way to $2 billion in U.S. wine export revenues by 2020. Considering the 2010 rebound, Wine Institute President and CEO Robert Koch says he is optimistic their goal is achievable.

“California is the fourth largest wine producer in the world,” Koch said. “Our continued work advocating for a level playing field in trade matters and the creative, long-term marketing investments by our wineries will enable us to reach our goal.”

The Central Coast participates in the Wine Institute’s international marketing strategies. The Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance says it has hosted wine trade groups and media from Mexico, Korea, China, Denmark, Singapore, Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland and the United Kingdom among others.