Off-Premise Wine Sales Grow by 6%

Average bottle price of domestic wines up by 21 cents in a year

by Jim Gordon
symphony iri
San Rafael, Calif.—Retail sales of domestic table wines maintained a growth rate of 6% during the 52 weeks ending in November. Volume grew just 2%, but that meant that the average price per bottle rose by 21 cents, according to the latest data from the Symphony IRI Group (SIG.)

Major U.S. food and drug stores sold more than 71 million cases of U.S.-produced wine for $5 billion, reported SIG, a Chicago-based market research firm. Case prices rose by $2.58 and the average bottle price reached $5.85.

The four-week performance in November 2012 vs. November 2011 lagged only slightly behind those numbers, growing 5% in dollars but staying flat in volume.

Chardonnay on top
Looking at the data by varietal, Chardonnay remained the biggest seller with $1.4 billion and a 22% share during 52 weeks. Cabernet Sauvignon was second with just under $1 billion. Merlot was a fairly distant third with $550 million and negative growth rate, while Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris had $497 million and, with a 9% growth rate, gained on Merlot.

Red blends enjoyed the fastest growth rate, 23%, of all major varietals and rose to sixth place in market share, behind fifth-place Pinot Noir, which also grew.

Merlot producers at the high end had some good news in terms of bottle price, as the medium-bodied red rose faster over the past year than any other major varietal in the $20-plus range. This runs counter to Merlot’s price performance in direct-to-consumer shipments. Top-end red blends also grew significantly in price, paralleling their performance in direct-to-consumer sales.

Washington wines grew 7% in value, and Oregon wines grew 9%—leading California wines, which nevertheless counted for 72% of the total market share. Imports claimed 20% market share, led by Italy and Australia in a near-tie.

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