Monday, February 06, 2006

Slaying the Barley Dragon

I started this blog in July of 2004 with the hope that I could try, in my small way, to knock wine off its high horse and remove a bit of the elitism that Americans associate with the beverage (after all, at the end of the day, that's all it is - a beverage). I hoped that wine consumption in this country would become a common, everyday thing - that people would routinely look to their wine rack/cellar/cupboard at mealtime to open a bottle with family and friends, not in celebration of an event, but merely because wine tastes damn good with food and vice versa. I have often hoped that one day, America would pass Uruguay in per-capita consumption!

It appears that I have succeeded beyond my wildest dreams (written with tongue embedded in cheek). New 2005 IRI data, as compiled by Rich Cartiere's Wine Market Report shows that wine is outpacing beer growth by a significant margin (9.6% growth versus .7% growth, respectively). Although total beer sales in dollars are still double those of wine, wine (should both maintain their growth rates) would actually pass beer in 9 or 10 years. These troubles for beer are reflected in Bud's recent poor earnings report (why don't they buy a big winery or something?).

IRI did show that domestic volume sales were up in 2005 by just 1.9%, and imports were up 7.5%. However, as I'd theorized previously, most of this shift to imports was in the below $9 range. Take out [yellow tail] and you find very little change. This is reinforced by the fact that the domestic and imported sales growth was the same at 10.3% (is the US losing the sub $10 battle? - maybe so).

Varietally speaking, Pinot Noir continued to show dramatic growth (volumes up 67% over 2004), but beware the Sideways Hangover as mediocre Pinot will soon be flooding the market and turning off many new fans. Zinfandel showed nice gains (yay!) of 12% by volume and in whites, Pinot Grigio/Gris was up 25%.

In any case, no matter how the import/domestic and varietal mixes come out, its good to see Americans drinking more vino!


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