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New Zealand Wine Shipments To U.S. Jump Double-Digits

August 30, 2013

The U.S. market drove growth for New Zealand wine exports during the 12 months through June. New Zealand’s shipments to the U.S. were up 13% to NZ$283.7 million ($220m) during the period, while global Kiwi exports increased 3% to NZ$1.21 billion ($944m), according to the New Zealand Winegrowers trade group.

Impact “Hot Brands” like Constellation’s Kim Crawford and Nobilo and Oyster Bay’s flagship label have been among those driving the New Zealand category, whose bottled exports to the U.S. rose 9% to 2.8 million cases in calendar 2012, according to Impact Databank. That total represents a near-doubling of the segment since 2005. Kim Crawford leads the market with a 20% volume share, while Oyster Bay (14%), Nobilo (13%), Constellation’s Monkey Bay (6%), Pernod Ricard’s Brancott (6%) and Treasury Wine’s Matua Valley (5%) round out the top six.

Kim Crawford (+24% to 557,000 cases), Oyster Bay (+29% to 391,000 cases), Nobilo (+20% to 354,000 cases), Monkey Bay (+4% to 178,000 cases), Brancott (+4% to 158,000 cases) and Matua Valley (+28% to 137,000 cases) all posted strong growth in the U.S. last year. Moreover, all have average retail prices over $10 a bottle.

Behind the category leaders, several up-and-coming brands are also driving competition in the New Zealand segment—among them E.&J. Gallo’s Starborough (+50% to 135,000 cases in 2012), Total Beverage Solution’s Kono (+49% to 70,000 cases) and Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits’ The Crossings (+25% to 50,000 cases). Terlato Wines is making a new push in the segment as well, with its new Loveblock project with Kim and Erica Crawford.

Sauvignon Blanc accounts for around 94% of the New Zealand wine imported to the U.S., notes Kate McManus, vice president of marketing, imports and innovation at Constellation. Pinot Noir also holds a few percentage points’ share, with other varietals remaining minuscule.

Steve Zanotti, owner of the Wine Exchange retail store in Orange, California, says New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir are both “accepted as options” by his customers. “To me, being an option is high praise. That label means it’s no longer a novelty,” he says, adding that the category has been a big seller in his store for several years. Wine Exchange carries 30 to 50 New Zealand wines depending on the time of year, among them around 15 Sauvignon Blancs and 10-15 Pinot Noirs.

“We see so much potential for Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, we’re going to be very focused on those varietals going forward,” says Sandra LeDrew, managing director, Treasury Wine Estates Americas, who adds that Matua Valley was recently repacked in a bid to keep the brand fresh as new competitors proliferate in the fast-growing segment.

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