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Domestic Sparkling Wines Tap Premiumization Trend

June 18, 2019

While domestic sparkling wines were roughly flat in the U.S. in 2018, the category has expanded by nearly 1.4 million cases over the past four years, and premiumization is taking root as consumers reach for higher-end bottles. Overall, the domestic sparkling category numbered 10.7 million cases in 2018, according to Impact Databank.

In the $15-and-above tier, Moët Hennessy’s Domaine Chandon remains the leader at 456,000 cases. While the brand was down 5.9% last year, it’s been healthy over the longer term, expanding significantly from its sub-400,000-case base in 2013. Mumm Napa, owned by Pernod Ricard, still trails Domaine Chandon but closed the gap a bit last year as it added almost 20,000 cases, reaching 353,000 cases on 5.5% growth.

New Mexico-based Gruet—one of the few non-California wines among the leading domestic sparklers—has continued its strong upward trajectory. Handled by Precept Wines, Gruet was up 15% to 140,000 cases in 2018. Roederer Estate, part of the Maisons Marques & Domaines portfolio, has also been on the upswing, rising to 127,000 cases on 5% growth.

California sparkler Gloria Ferrer, part of the Freixenet Mionetto USA range, declined by 3% last year, to 90,000 cases. Still, Freixenet Mionetto co-CEO Enore Ceola is enthusiastic about the brand, pointing out its heritage in California’s Carneros appellation. Going forward, his primary goal for Gloria Ferrer is to continue premiumizing, noting that the brand took price in late 2017. Piper Sonoma, from Rémy Cointreau, also slipped last year, down 8% to 101,000 cases.

At the $10-$15 tier, Korbel remains the dominant player, although it declined slightly in 2018, down 2.4% to 1.44 million cases. Korbel owner and president Gary Heck tells SND that the brand is focusing on the brunch occasion. “Korbel will position itself as the authority brunch choice through on- and off-premise tools, local promotions and activations, digital marketing initiatives leveraging search-based platforms like Pinterest, and consistent messaging,” he says.

Heck also notes the success of sweet varietals and sparkling rosés. “With three popular offerings including Sweet Rosé, Brut Rosé, and Sweet Cuvée, Korbel will continue to recruit millennial and multicultural consumers into the family—to this point, multicultural consumers are even more likely than the general population to view sparkling wine as an ‘everyday’ choice, presenting an opportunity to leverage rosés and sweeter styles,” he observes. Korbel’s closest competitor in the $10-$15 segment, Weibel Family Vineyards’ titular label, was the only leading brand in the price range to post growth last year, jumping 11.5% to 245,000 cases.

The under-$10 segment remains by far the largest part of the domestic sparkling market; its leading brands total nearly 6.9 million cases, compared to 1.9 million cases for the $10-$15 tier, and 1.26 million cases for the $15 and up segment. Following its pending purchase of 34 brands from Constellation, E.&J. Gallo will have significantly upped its presence in the entry-level tier, where it already holds a strong share with brands including Andre, Barefoot Bubbly, and William Wycliff. With the addition of Cook’s and J. Roget from Constellation, Gallo’s volume in the under-$10 sparkling wine arena will expand by nearly 3 million cases.—Danny Sullivan

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