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U.S. Wine Exports Topped the $1 Billion Mark

Big Payday for Winemakers
 
As the latest numbers suggest, there is an unending love for wine around the globe. U.S. wine exports passed the $1 billion milestone for the first time with $1,008,259,000 in winery export revenues in 2008, up 6 percent from the previous year, according to the Wine Institute in San Francisco. Ninety percent of the exports were from California wine regions.
 
"Wine exports have increased steadily during the past 15 years, increasing more than five-fold from $196 million in 1994.  Our wineries have been able to adjust and remain competitive despite changes in U.S. dollar exchange rates and during strong and weak economic conditions,- said Robert P. Koch, President and CEO of Wine Institute.
 
To continue the momentum, the U.S. government, international organizations, and the Wine Institute are cooperating to help assure implementation of the 2006 EU-US Wine Trade agreement and to reduce high tariffs, production subsidies, and other restrictive trade barriers throughout the world.
 
Europeans Not Snubbing U.S. Wine
 
Nearly half of U.S. wine exports are shipped to the European Union, accounting for $486 million.  Volume shipments to the European Union increased 9 percent in 2008 compared to 2007, and sales by value grew at a slightly lower rate of 2 percent due to the continuing strategy of producers exporting bulk wine for bottling overseas to save the costs of shipping bottles and other packaging.  (The finished wines are then shipped to their final destinations in neighboring countries.)  The next leading markets were: Canada, $260 million; Japan, $61 million; Hong Kong, $26 million; and Mexico, $23 million.
 
"In tough trading conditions, California continued to build market share in the United Kingdom,- said Wine Institute"s Trade Director for the UK John McLaren. "The highlight was overtaking France for the number two slot behind Australia.-
 
"While we are also starting to see the effects of the financial crisis on the European wine markets, California has performed well in Europe in 2008,- said Trade Director for Europe Paul Molleman. "Exports to the key market of Germany are on the rebound as there is renewed importer interest in adding California to their portfolio, and sales are up in most countries. The best example is Poland, where California's positive image and availability of excellent value wines have resulted in a 14 percent market share, well ahead of France.-
 
"In Canada, retail wine sales for California wines exceeded 3.2 million cases for the first time ever, helped by favorable exchange rates, exciting new product introductions and several very successful liquor board promotions,- said Rick Slomka, Trade Director for Canada. "The most impactful promotion was the partnership with the Liquor Control Board of Ontario to create a fully-integrated marketing campaign called 'California Style," probably the largest retail promotion of California wines ever outside the U.S. market.-
 
For more information on the wine industry, visit www.wineinstitute.org or www.winebusiness.com.

By Neil Whitehall
Get Wine Jobs, Contributing Editor

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