U.S. wine exports hit record, China sales up 18%

Foreigners are still loving on American wine, especially if it’s from California, pushing U.S. vino exports to a record $1.4 billion in 2012.

Wine shipments out of the country grew for the third straight year in a 2.6% boost, according to the Wine Institute, an advocacy group based in San Francisco.

Of the exports, 90% originated in California, home to well-known growing regions such as Napa, Sonoma, Paso Robles and Temecula.

The European Union remains the top market for Golden State wines, with exports up 1.7% last year to $485 million. Sales to Canada, the runner-up consumer, boomed 14% to $434 million.

Chinese customers continued clamoring for California labels, despite a burgeoning home-grown industry. Sales in the Asian superpower swelled 18% to $74 million.

The state’s wines also enjoyed a 26% surge in South Korea, where exports last year totaled $16 million.

Separate reports this fall showed major wine producers such as France and Italy suffering through tough climate conditions that have damaged grapes. Global wine production last year was expected to shrink 6.1% to its lowest point in 37 years, according to the International Organization for Vine and Wine.

A wine shortage could strike this year, according to an executive from French wine cooperative Groupe Val d’Orbieu.  


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