California Wine has Record Breaking Export Year

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SAN FRANCISCO – California has had a fantastic record braking year in wine exportation in 2015. This by itself is fantastic news especially when you consider the strength of the U.S. dollar.

The sales are outpacing volume growth and this growth is happening despite foreign competitors with high financial support, high export-taxes.

California Wine Export Record Stats

According to a press release from the Wine Institute, U.S. wine exports, 90 percent from California, hit a $1.61 billion revenue. That is an all-time record and a 7.6 percent increase in sales from 2014.

The Volume was up 461 million liters, contained in 51.2 million cases. That is a 4.1 percent increase from 2014.

Exports from California have increased  91 percent by value in the past decade.

Countries Buying the Wine

The top 10 export markets for California wines in 2015:

  • The 28-member European Union – $622 million.
  • Canada – $461 million.
  • Hong Kong – $97 million.
  • Japan – $96 million.
  • China – $56 million.
  • Nigeria – $29 million.
  • Mexico – $26 million.
  • South Korea – $23 million.
  • Switzerland – $21 million.
  • Singapore – $15 million.

These statistics are according to the California Wine Institute.

Reasons for the Increase in Exportation

California wines appeal to consumers across the globe who recognize the unique quality and excellent value of our wines.  Consumers are also attracted to California’s trend-setting lifestyle, innovative cuisine, beautiful wine country destinations and emphasis on environmental responsibility – all of which are reflected in our wines,” said Wine Institute President and CEO Robert P. Koch.

This is an all-inclusive statement by Mr. Koch but there are also reasons for the increase country-by-country. Here is more about increases in other countries:

  • Canada
    “California wine sales continued to be strong in Canada last year despite unfavorable exchange rates. In 2015, U.S. wine sales surpassed wines from France and Italy for the first time to claim the largest share of import table wines in the Canadian market,” said Canadian Trade Director for the Wine Institute Rick Slomka.
  • Continental Europe
    “Despite a strong U.S. dollar and fierce competition from Old and New World wine countries, nearly all export markets in Continental Europe showed an increase. It is especially encouraging to see that our educational and promotional efforts in Germany, our largest market on the continent, are paying off with an increase of 32% in revenues,” said Wine Institute Trade Director for Continental Europe Paul Molleman.
  • United Kingdom
    “The wine trade here has shifted emphasis to restaurants and casual dining, and a burgeoning independent retail sector, leading to increased interest in premium wines from the Golden State. California is better placed here than it has ever been before, and we expect further growth in 2016 and beyond,” said Wine Institute United Kingdom Trade Director John McLaren.
  • Japan
    “California wine has been selling well in Japan but supply was a major challenge in the first quarter of 2015 due to the slowdown at the ports along the U.S. west coast. Japan’s California wine imports in January 2015 were down 40.5% by volume from the previous year, and the situation prevented Japanese importers from promoting our wines. After April 2015, the port issue was resolved and supply was back in line with growing demand,” said Wine Institute Japan Trade Director Ken-ichi Hori.
  • China
    “With no reliable country-wide sales data, the 2015 numbers based on import/export data for China don’t tell the whole story on California wine performance, and, in fact, are misleading. Looking at consumption of California wines in the premium and super premium categories, the price range for most California wines, sales were up last year. The export decline was due to a drop in less expensive wines being imported following excessive importation in 2013-2014.” said Wine Institute Trade Director for China Christopher Beros.
  • Emerging Markets
    “The strong dollar and difficult trading conditions affected California wine’s performance in emerging markets. However, the region produced clear success stories in 2015, such as Hong Kong, Mexico and South Korea where export value grew 41%, 7% and 5% respectively,” said Wine Institute Regional Director for Emerging Markets Eric Pope.

Comparative Wine Export Markets

To give you an idea of the wine export climate of the world, here is the top-ten wine exports of 2014. The dollar values are U.S. currency values and the percents are of total wine exports.

  • France – US$10.3 billion (29.6%)
  • Italy – $6.8 billion (19.6%)
  • Spain – $3.4 billion (9.8%)
  • Chile – $1.9 billion (5.4%)
  • Australia – $1.7 billion (4.8%)
  • United States – $1.5 billion (4.2%)
  • Germany – $1.3 billion (3.8%)
  • New Zealand – $1.1 billion (3.2%)
  • Portugal – $968.6 million (2.8%)
  • Argentina – $841.5 million (2.4%)

World-wide statistics of wine exports for 2015 are not yet available. These statistics are according to


Despite the great records there is still room for growth and obstacle in the way.

“Removing obstacles to trade and ensuring that California wines have fair and equal access to international sales channels remain our top focus,” said Wine Institute Vice President and International Trade Counsel Tom LaFaille.”Unfortunately, more and more countries and provinces are “modernizing” their laws to benefit only local wine producers.  Wine Institute works closely with the U.S. government to continue to lead initiatives against discriminatory trade barriers which violate international agreements.”



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