San Rafael, Calif.
—Domestic wine sales at major U.S. food and drug retailers remained steadily up for the most recent period measured by the Symphony IRI Group
. Four-week dollar sales ending Sept. 4 hit $351 million and grew 7% over the same period last year. The year-to-date growth rate was also 7%. Volume sales of domestic table wine grew a bit more slowly, at 5%, as prices edged up 8 cents per 750ml.
The news was even brighter in the narrower category of domestic varietal table wine packaged in 750ml bottles. This segment grew by nearly 9% in the recent four weeks. In contrast, varietals in 1.5L packages grew at 5%; non-varietals in 1.5L format actually dropped by 1% compared to the same period a year earlier.
Imported table wines were essentially flat in off-premise dollar sales for the year to date, showing just 1% growth. Tremendous increases of 32% by Argentina and 19% by New Zealand barely balanced hefty losses by two countries that export more to the U.S. France was down by 7% and Australia by 8%.
Oregon up 14%
Symphony IRI, the Chicago-based market research firm, measured Oregon table wine as being up 14% year to date with $38 million in dollar sales. This put Oregon in the same neighborhood as Spain and Germany in total sales, but each only holds about 1% market share in dollars. Sales of Washington wines so far this year grew 5% in dollars. Washington holds 5% of market share.
Speaking of Oregon and other Pinot Noir-producing regions, sales of Pinot Noir were among the fastest growing of the varietal types. Pinot Noir from all sources grew 12% year to date. However, the real champions of growth were red blends and Meritage wines, which increased sales by 28% year to date.
Chardonnay is king
Despite the long-running Anything But Chardonnay argument by some wine critics and trade members, Chardonnay is still the top-selling varietal, SIRI’s data show. Sales of Chardonnay—domestic and import combined—topped $1.3 billion in the most recent 52 weeks. No. 2 Cabernet Sauvignon sold a mere $897 million.
A look at sales of Chardonnay, Cabernet and Merlot by price-point shows that Chardonnay dominates those two reds and every other varietal category in five out of seven segments. Only in the mid-range of $8-$10.99 and in the highest-priced segment of $20-plus did Cabernet outsell Chardonnay in dollars.