WINE EXPORTS ARE FALLING, FALLING
Value is the name of the game these days, especially where wine is concerned. French and California wine exports declined last year as consumers in the US and Europe hurt by the economic slump spent less in restaurants, opted for cheaper brands and shunned expensive champagne. Sales of French wine outside its home market fell 17% last year to 7.74 billion euros (US$1O.5 billion), the Paris-based Federation of Wine Exporters stated. Champagne exports took the biggest hit, posting a 28% decline, followed by the Bordeaux wines which fell 23%. Export sales from Bourgogne declined by 23%. “The year ended much better than it started, with good November and December sales,” said Claude de Jouvencel, the Federation’s chairman, said in the statement. “The development in 2O1O nevertheless remains uncertain.” Revenue fell particularly in the US and in Europe, while the Russian market is “very difficult”, according to the document. Meanwhile, things aren’t much rosier in California as wine shipments fell for the first time in 16 years. Consumption of wine is up 2.1% nationally, but industry analyst Jon Fredrikson told the audience at the annual Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in January that the American public was snubbing pricier bottles from California and instead opting for cheaper bulk wine imports from overseas winemakers. It’s not all bad news. California’s biggest commercial wineries, whose business targets price-conscious consumers, are experiencing good growth. Last year, the state’s seven largest producers saw sales on the whole grow by nearly 7 million cases. But for the state’s overall industry, the news wasn’t as good. California wine shipments fell almost 4%, or by nearly 4 million cases of wine, for the first 11 months of last year, Fredrikson said. Nationwide, the domestic wine market dropped by 3 million cases compared with a year earlier. Restaurant sales were sluggish too: Wine sales dropped as much as 1O% at restaurants across the country. At the same time, wines from countries such as Argentina, Chile and Australia, which has a surplus of high end grapes, saw business boom: Imports were up 87% last year, cornering about 32% of the US market. At least someone’s doing well.