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Wine Trends for 2015 

grgich Hills Estate Napa Valley
Grgich Hills Estate in the Napa Valley. Photos courtesy of Google images

Wayne On Wine
By Wayne Crawford

  Wayne Crawford
  Wayne Crawford

The USA is the number one wine-drinking country. Last year, according to Wines & Vines, American wineries grew by 479 to a total of 8,142. Georgia has 30-plus bonded wineries with two new ones.

The number one white wine remains Chardonnay, with Cabernet Sauvignon the leading red wine. California has 48 percent of winery operations (3,782). In terms of average bottle price among wineries, 34 percent cover the $11 to $19.99 price range, with 32 percent in the $20 to $29 range.

According to the Shanken News Daily article on a Nielsen survey, 80 percent of our wine is sold in wine shops, grocery and liquor stores. Online sales only accounted for 2 percent. Most online wine buyers are more than 40, married, with children and have higher incomes. It is notable these purchasers are buying more wines from family-owned and small wineries.

  white wine
  Chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon wines will continue to hold first place among white and red wines; sales should continue to rise in pinot noir and merlot wines.

Sparkling wine saw the biggest growth in wine at 16 million cases; the highest increase was in imported sparklers at 7.1 percent, according to U.S. Wine Market. Italian Prosecco enjoyed first place, followed by Spanish Cava.

The Gallo Consumer Wine Trends Survey sharpens our view on how Americans enjoy wine today; it can be read at multivu.com/players/English/7379251-e-and-j-gallo-winery-consumer-wine-trends-survey-captures-americans-drinking-attitudes-behaviors/.

In this, E. & J. Gallo’s inaugural survey, it was shown Americans increasingly enjoy wine, as well we must since we are the number one wine-consuming nation. Further, Americans are eager to experiment with flavors and format. I see this when judging fruit wine offered for scoring, such as blackberry, peach and cranberry at regional judging events.

More wine drinkers, 49 percent, particularly in the age group 25-40, use social media to comment on wines they taste. Sweet and bubbly wines are in style; we see this in the increase of sparkling wine sales: Sweet Moscato is on the surge.

Wine drinkers are mixing it up: In the 25-40 age group, based on those responding to the Gallo survey; 66 percent combine wine with fruit or fruit juices. A “Mimosa” is one example. Fifty-one percent make a wine cocktail; 48 percent mix wine with other cocktail mixers, like club soda; 46 percent drink wine over ice—perhaps white Zinfandel!

Twenty-seven percent occasionally drink wine in a cup with a straw—I have seen this with a few red wine drinkers attempting to reduce wine stain on their teeth. Not surprisingly, 66 percent of American wine drinkers admit to buying wines based on the label. I have seen this trend with a few of my lady friends—Tait’s The Ball Buster is a great favorite for ladies and a delightful wine from Australia.

However, and I think most important, the survey reported 76 percent say taste is the most important factor. The varietals most enjoyed were merlot, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir and pinot grigio, in that order.

  santa barbara vineyards
  A Santa Barbara vineyard. Water may be a factor in California winery growth, with growers increasingly considering agriculture challenges—grapes to almonds.
Supporting these results is Wine & Vines’ top 20 Off-Premise brands in the $20-plus range, which include, in first place, Santa Margherita, Italian wines with $36.5 million in sales. These include pinot grigio, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, chardonnay and sparkling wines.
Second place went to Duckhorn Vineyards’ second label, Decoy, at $20.5 million. It also produces merlot, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and a sauvignon blanc. Clearly, both companies understand what American wine drinkers enjoy.

My 2015 wine trends
Sparkling wines sales will continue to increase: Champagne, Prosecco, Cava, West Coast sparklers and Cremant sparkling wine from France.

Chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon wines will continue to hold first place among white and red wines; sales should continue to rise in pinot noir and merlot wines.

Average wine sales are likely to remain in the $11 to $25 range as the sweet spot, but there will be an increase in sales for wines costing more than $30.

Additional wineries will emerge across the country with Oregon, New York, Virginia, Texas and North Carolina showing more growth. Water may be a factor in California winery growth, with growers increasingly considering agriculture challenges—grapes to almonds.

carmelvalleyjoullianvineyards
Joullian Vineyards in Carmel Valley.

As the economy improves, there will be a 2.5 to 3.5 percent increase in online sales. Both Flash sites and wineries realize this is an important sector to expand, not only for boutique and collector wines but also for great deals to move product in the less than $20 range.

With the change in gas prices, the opportunity to travel to local wineries and enjoy their wines should increase, and local wineries need to market this opportunity. Buy local and eat local.

American wine drinkers will seek out new varietals and wine-growing regions offering great QPR and taste.

Ten wines to enjoy in 2015

  • L’Ecole No. 41 Chardonnay 2013, Columbia Valley, Washington, $22
  • Columbia Crest 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills H3, Washington, $15
  • De Martino 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley Legado Reserva, Chile, $17
  • Ponzi 2012 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Tavola, Oregon, $25
  • Trisaetum 2013 Estates Reserve Riesling, Oregon, $38
  • Crémant du Jura Brut NV, France $24
  • Michael David Winery Earthquake 2012, California, $26
  • Bodega Norton 2012 Malbec Privada, Mendoza, Argentina, $26
  • Álvaro Palacios 2013 Camins del Priorat, Spain, $23
  • Duval-Leroy NV Brut Champagne, France, $35

‘Drink What You Like’

In the next article, I will showcase classic Rhone blended grapes: grenache, syrah and mourvèdre GSM from around the world.

Wayne Crawford is a certified specialist of Wine CSW and a member of the Society of Wine Educators and the American Wine Society.

 

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