The US Wine Market in a Nutshell: 2014 Winners & Losers

Surprising US market trends for 2014:  sales of high priced wines are rising, while low priced wines are falling; Sauvignon Blanc is the biggest winner among single varietals, while Syrah is the biggest loser; red wine blends and rosé wine are both up significantly; while imports barely grew, the big winners were New Zealand and Portugal.

The latest Nielsen Company report reveals some remarkable trends in off-premise wine sales by value[1]. For all of 2014, the dollar value of all wine sales increased 3.3 percent, and sales of 750 ml bottles rose 4.2 percent. This is after a 4.5 percent gain in total wine sales in 2013, showing that the wine market continues to recover from the Great Recession of 2008. But it’s the details of this growth that are most interesting.

ART Market Chge Sales 2014The US market continues to be dominated by inexpensive wines.  Wines priced under $9/bottle account for over half the 2014 market in terms of consumer spending.  And wines priced over $20/bottle accounted for only 7 percent of total wine sales. However, in 2014 low priced wines priced lost market share, while high priced wines gained market share. And the largest gain of all was for wines priced over $20/bottle, which increased 14.9% year on year.  This is after a 13.2% increase in sales for the $20/bottle category in 2013.  The graph shows the change in the dollar value of sales by price category in 2014.

Domestic wine sales are rising much more rapidly than imports.

Imports of New Zealand and Portguese wine are rising rapidly; Australian, German, and Spanish imports are down. Imports from South Africa were up 3.6% for the year.

Sales of red wine are up significantly more than those of white wine.

Red wine blends are up significantly (+10.4%) compared to 2013, considerably higher than the rise in single varietals (+2.9%).

Among the single varietals, the winners are Sauvignon Blanc (+8.5%), Cabernet Sauvignon (+7.6%), and Pinot Noir (+7%).  The losers are Syrah (-13.6%), White Zinfandel (-7.9%), and Merlot (-3.8%).

While Chardonnay sales rose only a meager 1.4%, it is still the single most popular variety by far, accounting for $2.4 billion in sales. Second highest is Cabernet Sauvignon, and third highest is Pinot Grigio.

An earlier September report also found sparkling wine sales continuing to rise (+5.5%), although sales at the two market extremes (<$6 and >$60) decreased.  Much of the increase in sparkling wine sales is being driven by the incredible success of Prosecco.

As we’ve noted in earlier articles, the sales of rosé wine continue to grow, up 18.1% on the year.


April 2015

[1] As reported in the Wine Business Monthly, March and April 2015

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