U.S. Wine Sales Up 7% Year-to-Date

$25-plus wines and premium boxed wines grow fastest

by Jim Gordon
symphony iri retail wine sales
Domestic table wine sales for the four weeks ending Aug. 7, 2011, saw a 7% sales increase over same period last year.
San Rafael, Calif.Symphony IRI Group’s latest data about domestic wine sales showed growth in dollars at 7% for the year to date compared to a year ago, and the same 7% rate for the four weeks ending Aug. 7. The numbers are based on check stand scan data from major U.S. food and drug stores.

With sales topping $2.8 billion so far this year and reaching 41 million 9L case equivalents, domestic table wines showed ongoing sales strength, especially against imports, which have grown less than 2% year to date. Symphony IRI (SIRI) has reported positive sales growth for domestic table wines every month since Wines & Vines began reporting SIRI’s data 18 months ago.

As has been typical, the Chicago-based market research firm found that its highest priced wine segment—$20 and more per 750ml bottle—enjoyed nearly the fastest dollar growth by package size and type, increasing 25% year to date over a year ago. Growth through early August 2010 was 22%, so stacking another 25% on top this year is especially impressive.

Only premium domestic boxed wines at $3.50 to $4.99 per 750ml grew slightly faster than the highest tier: 26% year to date. In dollars, that category is about 40% smaller than the $20-plus wines. The biggest dollar category of domestic table wines is priced at $5 to $7.99. This group grew at a more modest but still-healthy 5% in dollars for the year to date, moving 9.6 million cases.

Average prices up

SIRI reported that the volume of domestic table wine grew by 5% so far this year, compared to 7% in dollar growth, indicating higher prices. The average price per 750ml rose by 7 cents, and price per case by 86 cents.

Cabernet Sauvignon in 750ml bottles led price-per-bottle increases among all table wines, both domestic and imported, with a 19-cent average gain, followed closely by Fumé/Sauvignon Blanc in 750s at 14 cents.

The biggest losers in price-per-bottle were Pinot Gris/Grigio, Pinot Noir and Riesling. Although these are all relatively hot categories in dollar sales, their prices did slip a bit this year.

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