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Spain’s Rueda Region In Push To Raise U.S. Profile

April 23, 2014

Spain’s bottled wine exports to the U.S. rose 5.3% to 4.6 million cases last year, representing a 20% increase since 2010. While well-known regions like Rioja—with U.S. shipments up 18% in 2013—are prospering amid the general upswing, U.S. consumers have also begun exploring lesser-known Spanish appellations with more regularity. Among them are central Spain’s Rueda, which last year embarked on a five-year, $21-million joint campaign with neighboring Ribera del Duero to boost exposure in the U.S.

Pablo del Villar, president of the D.O. Rueda and CEO of Bodega Hermanos del Villar, says the marketing push—centered on identifying Rueda with its dominant Verdejo grape—has been well-received, and that producers in the region are increasingly focused on providing a strong value-for-money proposition to U.S. consumers.

“Rueda is coming around to the idea that ‘good wine is the wine that people buy,’” del Villar tells SND. Currently, Rueda sells only around 100,000 cases in the U.S., but growth has ramped up from 5%-10% annually over the past 10 years to an estimated 15%-20% last year, and del Villar expects that acceleration to continue.

Hermanos del Villar’s Verdejo whites from Rueda include entry-level Ipsum ($11) and the recently repacked Oro de Castilla ($17), which are handled by Olé Imports and present in 40 U.S. markets. The winery, which produces 650,000 bottles a year, is also active in Ribera del Duero, and will introduce Gaudeamus ($20), a Tempranillo from that region, early this summer.

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