US wine sales: “Nowhere to go but up”

Improving wine quality, celebrity endorsement, restaurants and demographics are driving a US wine boom, according to Stephanie Gallo.

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One third of Americans over 21 currently drink wine

In a discussion with the drinks business in California on Friday last week, Stephanie Gallo, who is vice president of marketing at Gallo Family Vineyards, expressed her confidence in the future of the wine industry in North America.

When asked about the potential for increasing wine consumption across the US, she stressed her belief in the future, but initially highlighted the limited extent of wine drinking in the country.

“Only 33% of Americans over 21 currently drink wine, and of those 33%, 80% of the volume is accounted for by 8-11% of the population; it is 80 years since the repeal of prohibition… we have a long way to go to make drinking wine of part of the American fabric,” she told db.

Nevertheless, she was quick to stress the possibilities offered by a nascent wine culture, “There is nowhere to go but up; I am very bullish about the wine industry in the US.”

Continuing, she outlined four key factors driving sales, the first of which she said was a rise in quality. “We are making better quality wine throughout California,” she stated.

Scandal Olivia Pope

Olivia Pope drinking wine in Scandal season 2, episode 5 – “All Roads Lead to Fitz”

Secondly, she picked out the fact wine is starting to become part of popular culture. “You can’t turn on the TV, or look through a magazine without seeing wine,” she said, noting in particular that Olivia Pope, the main character in hit American TV series Scandal, drinks wine.

Following this, she noted the positive impact of the on-trade in the US. “Every restaurant in America serves wine, and Starbucks is now testing wine too,” she commented.

Finally, she said that changing demographics in America were in wine’s favour. “Every morning we wake up there are 11,000 millennials that turn 21, and they don’t view wine as an elitist beverage.”

Gallo, which is the world’s largest wine company, is still entirely family owned and operated, and employs 4,800 people worldwide, according to Stephanie. Estimates put the volume of wine sold annually by Gallo at around 70 million cases.

According to the Californian Wine Institute, in 2012, per capita wine consumption in the US was 2.73 gallons (12.4 litres), up from 2.68 gallons the year before. (These figures include those not of legal drinking age).

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