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Impact Databank: New Zealand Wines On Fire

March 28, 2016

With U.S. imports of New Zealand wine up 14% to 6.5 million nine-liter cases in 2015, five of the category’s most dynamic franchises earned Impact “Hot Brand” honors. Market leader Kim Crawford continues to lead the charge, approaching 1 million cases on a 17% volume jump last year, according to Impact Databank.

Since 2012, Kim Crawford ($17-$33) has added 400,000 cases to its U.S. volume, with consumers venturing beyond its leading Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir offerings to its Unoaked Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. “We’re looking to solidify our position as the number-one Sauvignon Blanc in the U.S. while offering an elevated experience to brand loyalists through our Small Parcels collection of terroir-driven wines,” says Julie Rossman, Kim Crawford’s global director of marketing.

To keep pace with growth, Constellation is doubling production at its Marlborough winery to 40 million liters annually on a $33 million investment. That move will also benefit New Zealand portfoliomate and fellow Hot Brand recipient Nobilo, which grew 12% to 560,000 cases in 2015.

Another fast-rising Kiwi brand, Oyster Bay, saw U.S. volume surge 15% last year to 630,000 cases on the strength of its Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot and two sparkling wines. Oyster Bay has added about 80,000 cases in the U.S. market each of the past few years, aided by consumer trends toward super-premium, cool-climate wines. “The explosive growth in the New Zealand category will continue. There’s a lot of room to grow consumer awareness,” says Oyster Bay Wines USA vice president, national sales manager, Peter Edgar. “Adoption is currently highest among Gen X and Y consumers, but it is broadening out.”

New Zealand’s Hot Brand contingent also includes E.&J. Gallo’s Starborough and Treasury Wine Estates’ Matua. The latter, which has garnered added exposure through partnerships with baseball teams like the Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers and Colorado Rockies, is up nearly 70% over the past two years. Starborough, meanwhile, grew by 50,000 cases in 2015, rocketing past the 400,000-case mark.

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