From the Napa Valley Register:
When the wine industry gathered Tuesday for the annual Unified Wine and Grape Symposium, the atmosphere was decidedly upbeat.
After years of grape gluts, growers welcomed rising demand and prices amid short crops. Wineries are also looking at stronger markets as the economy rebounds and the ocean of surplus wine dries up.
About 12,000 owners, managers and workers attend the yearly trade show to learn the latest about grape growing, wine making and marketing as well as kick the tires on new products, services and equipment for the wine and grape businesses.
Jon Fredrikson, of market research firm Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates, noted that the U.S. became the world’s largest wine consumer last year. While per capita consumption — still low — is rising, the wine business can anticipate heady growth ahead, if it can get the grapes.
Fredrikson said U.S. wine shipments were 345 million cases in 2011, up 4.5 percent over 2011. Of that, 210 million cases came from California (89 percent of U.S. production), 26 million from other states (11 percent of U.S. production) and 110 million cases were imports.
In total, imports represented 32 percent of wine shipped to customers in the U.S. in 2011.
Wines that cost less than $7 represent 61 percent of the volume; those from $7 to $10 are 19 percent and those selling for more than $10 are 20 percent of the market. The revenue totals, however, favor more expensive wines.
He said the hottest categories were sweet red wines, with sales up 202 percent since 2010; unoaked chardonnay up 101 percent; muscats up 64 percent, and malbec up 40 percent.