New record for California wine sales in U.S.

California wine shipments to the U.S. reached an estimated retail value of $34.1 billion in 2016, up 4.6%. The state shipped an all-time high of 238 million cases to the U.S. in 2016, up 2% from the previous year

California wine sales to all markets, including shipments to the U.S. and exports, also set a record of 285 million cases in 2016.

2016 Stats at a Glance
  • Estimated retail value of 2016 California wine sales in the U.S. was $34.1 billion
  • The state shipped an all-time high of 238 million cases to the U.S. in 2016
  • Total California wine sales to the U.S. and exports was a record 285 million cases
  • The U.S. has been the world’s largest wine market since 2010

We can pointed out several trends in the U.S. marketplace. Both major retailers and distributors continue to consolidate, creating fierce competition and crowded sales channels. Consequently, many wineries are targeting niche sales channels, such as tasting rooms and direct-to-consumer sales, which have now reached more than 4% of the total volume. Another trend is that California wines selling for $10 and above are showing growth, accounting for 19% of the volume and 40% of the value in U.S. food stores. Wines under $10 are flat or down, but still holding 81% share of the shipment volume and 60% of the revenues.

Americans’ access to wine continues to expand with over 550,000 locations that sell wine, according to Nielsen, a global provider of information and insights into consumer preferences and purchases. The number of on- and off-premise locations is about 120,000 more than a decade ago.

According to Nielsen measured U.S. food store volume, Chardonnay remains the largest varietal of all wine types accounting for 20% share of the cases, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon (15%), Red Blends including Sweet Reds (12%), Pinot Grigio/Gris (9%), Merlot (7%), Pinot Noir (6%), White Zinfandel/Blush (6%), Moscato/Muscat (5%) and Sauvignon Blanc (5%). The largest gains for whites came from Sauvignon Blanc with Pinot Grigio following well behind. Red wine growth was driven by Red Blends, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. From a smaller base of 1% share, Rosé is on fire with a 35% volume gain, but more than 60% on dollars.

Total shipments of sparkling wine and champagne to the U.S. reached 25.6 million cases in 2016. Up 14% from the previous year, the category is showing very strong growth with Prosecco a key growth driver. Sparkling wines/champagne accounted for a 6% share of the U.S. wine market.