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California’s Super-Premium Sparkling Wines Rack Up Retail Gains

August 31, 2020

The U.S. sparkling wine market continues to see solid growth, adding nearly a half-million cases to its total last year, according to Impact Databank. With consumer interest increasingly widespread, domestic sparkling wines from California and beyond are enjoying gains, especially at the super-premium tier, defined by Impact Databank as offerings retailing above $15 a 750-ml.

“What I’ve seen happen in this business over the last 25 years is that the sparkling category has become part of your life,” observes Rocco Lombardo, president of Wilson Daniels, whose portfolio includes high-end California sparkler Schramsberg. “These aren’t occasion wines anymore. These are more wines that people are drinking throughout the week when they’re dining.”

Moët Hennessy USA’s Domaine Chandon is the leading domestic sparkling wine above $15. The brand has seen marked expansion in recent years, and is closing in on a half-million cases. Chandon’s dollar value was up 24% on a 21% volume increase in IRI channels in the year-to-date through August 9. Earlier this year, Chandon introduced By The Bay ($30), a new blanc de blancs bubbly from Carneros. By The Bay is partially aged in French oak barrels and spends 42 months on the lees.

Another key player in the above-$15 segment, Mumm Napa, slipped slightly in 2019 but jumped 22% in both volume and value in IRI channels this year through August 9. The core lineup consists of Prestige Brut, Brut Rosé, and the slightly sweet Cuvée M, and is augmented by the higher-end vintage DVX line and a series of non-vintage reserve and vineyard specific vintage releases.

Although the leading domestic sparklers above $15 typically do most of their business in the mid-$20s, Wilson Daniels’ Schramsberg brand takes aim at a higher price tier, with the majority of its offerings selling for $40 and up. Schramsberg had volume of approximately 90,000 cases last year, according to Impact Databank, and is also up by strong double-digits in IRI channels this year, counting Safeway, Albertsons, Whole Foods, and Publix as key accounts. “We’ve amplified our programs in the grocery channel,” Lombardo explained. “Thankfully Schramsberg—specifically with Blanc de Blancs and Brut Rosé—has a footprint in many of the larger grocers across the country.”

New Mexico’s Gruet surged 35% to 190,000 cases last year and is likewise recording strong retail growth in 2020. The wines are distributed nationally, but Gruet’s top markets are New Mexico, California, and New York. The company sees a strong future for Texas, Colorado, Illinois, and Florida as partner Precept Wine expands distribution in those markets.

Freixenet Mionetto USA’s Gloria Ferrer was up 15% in value terms in IRI channels in the first half after holding steady at 92,000 cases last year, according to Impact Databank. “I think for us the most ground that’s being gained is in our Extra Brut,” said Mayacamas Olds, general manager for Gloria Ferrer. “And Rosé continues to be popular. It’s probably the most requested wine.” Also among the leading brands in the upscale domestic sparkling segment are Roederer Estate and Piper Sonoma, at 127,000 cases and 69,000 cases last year, respectively.—Shane English

U.S.Top 5 Super-Premium Priced Domestic Sparkling Wine Brands
 (thousands of 9-liter case depletions)1
Rank Brand Company 2018 2019 Percent
Change2
1 Domaine Chandon Moët Hennessy USA 456 486 6.5%
2 Mumm Napa Pernod Ricard USA 353 348 -1.4%
3 Gruet Precept Wines 140 190 35.3%
4 Roederer Estate Maisons Marques & Domaines USA 127 127
5 Gloria Ferrer3 Freixenet Mionetto USA 92 92
Total Top Five4 1,168 1,242 6.4%
1 At least $15 a 750-ml.
2 Based on unrounded data.
3 Excludes still wine.
4 Addition of columns may not agree due to rounding.

Source: IMPACT DATABANK © 2020

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