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in California State

Jon Fredrikson at Unified 2013 PicmonkeyJon Fredrikson addresses wine industry leaders at 2013 Unified Symposium

Wine sales in the U.S. from all prouction sources—California, other U.S. states and foreign countries—increased 2% from the previous year to a new record of 360.1 million 9-liter cases with an estimated retail value of $34.6 billion,” according to wine industry consultant Jon Fredrikson of Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates in Woodside. Of the total, almost two-thirds or 207.7 million cases of California wine account for a 58% share of U.S. wine sales with an estimated retail value of $22 billion. Including exports, 2012 California wine shipments to all markets in the U.S. and abroad reached 250.2 million cases.

“The U.S. is the largest wine market in the world with 19 consecutive years of volume growth,” said Wine Institute President and CEO Robert P. (Bobby) Koch. “Competition for retail shelf space and consumer attention is intense, so California’s high quality, record winegrape harvest in 2012 could not have come at a better time. California vintners continue to respond to growing worldwide demand with a wide array of outstanding wines from regions throughout the state and Wine Institute is supporting the effort by opening markets and eliminating trade barriers in the U.S. and abroad.”

“Wine shipments to the U.S. market climbed by nearly 50% since 2001 and it is likely that American consumption will continue to expand over the next decade as wine continues to gain traction among American adult consumers,” said Fredrikson. “The amazing diversity of choices and exciting new offerings are attracting new consumers and boosting consumption. Among the key growth drivers are favorable demographics, a widening consumer base and increasing points of distribution in both on- and off-sale outlets. For example, Starbucks is now serving wine in some key markets and Amazon.com and Facebook Gifts both sell wine online.”

Varietal Trends in Chain Retail Outlets

Wine sales in U.S. food stores and other off-premise measured channels from all domestic and foreign producers grew 2% by volume and 6% by value, according to Nielsen, a global provider of information and insights into what consumers buy. California wines grew faster than the overall category by a full percentage point. By varietal in the table wine category, Chardonnay remained the most popular varietal with a 21% share of volume, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% volume share; Merlot, 9% share, and Pinot Grigio/Gris, 8% share. The largest percentage gains were Muscat/Moscato, up 33% in volume with 6% market share, and domestic red blends/sweet red wines, up 22% in volume with 5% share of market. Also of note was Malbec, up 21% by volume with a 1% share.

“Consumers have more access to wine throughout the country with wine-selling locations expanding by well over 50,000 from five years ago. Off-premise retail outlets grew 15% to almost 175,000 outlets, while restaurants and other on-premise outlets increased 12% to 332,000 locations in the U.S.,” said Danny Brager, vice president of the beverage alcohol practice at Nielsen. “Retailers recognize that wine is a large and growing category, even in economically challenging times, and tends to attract upper income consumers, and all legal drinking age groups. Wine also pairs well with food, leading to larger, more profitable shopping baskets.”

Sparkling Wine and Champagne

Shipments of sparkling wine and champagne reached 17.7 million cases in 2012, up 2% over the previous year. California sparkling wine grew 3% with Moscato based sparklers driving the growth. While overall total 2012 volume slowed after a major surge in 2011, sparkling wine shipments to the U.S. in 2012 were at their highest level since 1987.

U.S. Wine Exports

U.S. wine exports, 90 percent from California, reached $1.43 billion in winery revenues in 2012, an increase of 2.6% compared to 2011. Volume shipments reached 424.6 million liters or 47.2 million cases. Of the top markets for California Wines, the European Union's 27-member countries are the largest accounting for $485 million, up 1.7%; followed by Canada, $434 million, up 14%; Hong Kong, $115 million, down 30%; Japan, $111 million, up 6%; China, $74 million, up 18%; Vietnam, $27 million, up 22%; Mexico, $20 million, up 4%; South Korea, $16 million, up 26%.




Cinq Cepages 2 Picmonkey

2009 Cinq Cépages


Producer: Chateau St. Jean

 Appelleation: Sonoma County

 Alcohol: 14.4%

 Suggested Retail: $75


“Our sample bottle had been opened for about an hour when first tasted. What a disappointment it seemed. Yes, there was a lot of big California fruit, but where was the complexity, the layered flavors, the subtlety that was expected?

 “This Cinq Cépages, a blend of five Bordeaux grapes, was a wine I'd loved from earlier vintages. The 2009 edition is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon (77%), Merlot (12%) and Cabernet Franc (8%), but there are small percentages of Malbec (2%) and Petit Verdot (!%), too. Other reviewers had also liked Cinq Cepages, maybe even loved it, over the years. So why didn't the reviewer appreciate its charms? Was December of 2012 too early for the winery to release this big red wine? Had it not had enough aeration/time to 'open up'? Another possibility was 'operator error.' Twenty-five years of reviewing wines, doesn't mean you can't have an off-day as a taster. Some of the bottle was drunk with dinner the night it was opened. The cork was put back into the bottle so that the balance could be retasted.

“Revisiting the wine four or five days later, it was everything I had hoped it would be when first opened. Beautiful aromas of blackberry, a tinge of spice (clove/cinnamon?) and dried herb and some cherry are there. Flavors of blackberry, blueberry and cherry follow. But there is more—there has been a faint mocha component from the beginning, but now there seems to be more of a dark or bitter chocolate presence, as well as some roasted Italian coffee. Layers of flavor, degrees of subtlety—the wine will be better with more bottle age, of course, but what I'm tasting now is splendid, an example of the whole being more than the sum of its (component varietal) parts. The 2009 Cinq Cépages is recommended. Best practice is to lay a few bottles down for drinking in years to come. However, it can justify a worth placement on your table now. We do strongly suggest decanting early.

Food Affinity: We originally poured with a London Broil roast of Wagyu beef and reduction of shallots, mushrooms and red wine, accompanied by fresh Stockton asparagus. We hold that is a pretty good combination. 


Pursuit of Hoppiness logo Big Picmonkey


The Pursuit of Hoppiness


Producer: Grand Teton Brewing Company

 Location: Victor, Idaho

 Style: American Amber/Red Ale

 Alcohol: 8.5%


 Serving style: Draft, growlers, 12-ounce and 750-ml bottles

 Availability: Year-round in 15 states, including Northern California


Appearance:  “Amber-red, very clear.”

Aroma:  “Gentle, but the hop aroma comes through.”

Taste:  “There's a malty backstory going on, but that just highlights the hoppiness that brightens it up. It doesn't seem particularly high in alcohol.”

Food Affinity:  “It goes very, very well with St. Louis-style ribs.”

Michael Mallett Mug Pickmonkey


Reviewed by Michael Mallett,

a trans-personal astrologer in Sacramento.


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