What wines are gaining share in the US market? Here are a few we’ve read about recently. [level-members]
Top of the growth list has to be Spanish wines, which continue to gain popularity in the US. Imports rose about 8% in 2012, with similar growth predicted again this year. Part of the reason may be that Spanish wines, most of which retail for less than $20, can be seen as budget-friendly alternatives to French and Italian wines, and even to many California bottles.
“There’s a good flock of wines moving at $15-$20, but a number of them are moving at the $20-$30 price points because people see these offerings as alternatives to more expensive Bordeaux and Napa wines,” says Chris Zitzman, associate director of sales and marketing at New Jersey’s Englewood Wine Merchants.
Patrick Mata, co-owner of Olé Imports, noted that consumers are becoming more knowledgeable about the differences among key Spanish wine regions like Rioja and Ribera del Duero. “Another exciting thing is seeing some grapes that haven’t been well known—such as Albariño, Tempranillo and Garnacha—slowly becoming mainstream. Restaurants now have these wines by the glass. Five or 10 years ago that was very rare.”
That restaurant acceptance can really drive sales, especially locally, so look for ways to partner with local restaurants at least far enough to know what their wine lists look like and whether you can comfortably offer wines they feature – or viable alternatives.
Don’t forget to look beyond Spain, though. New Zealand wines are also gaining a bigger foothold in the US, with growth of about 12% in 2012. (Though that growth comes on a smaller market share.) The big brands all say impressive growth – Kim Crawford, Monkey Bay, Brancott, and Matua Valley among them. Sauvignon Blanc, of course, is the largest component of the kiwi wine invasion in the US, though Pinot from NZ is becoming more widely accepted, too.