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Imported Wine Update, Part 2: Southern Hemisphere Stars

May 27, 2021

While overall imported wine shipments to the U.S. were down last year, a number of key Southern Hemisphere countries posted increases. Among them, Australia’s shipments to the U.S. increased 1.4% to 8.87 million cases, New Zealand rose 7.6% to 6.32 million cases, and Argentina advanced 3.5% to 5.11 million cases.

Treasury Wine Estates’ Australian brand 19 Crimes—the No. 4 imported table wine in the U.S.—jumped 33.8% to 2.18 million cases last year, while Treasury’s New Zealand offering Matua rose 18.5% to 730,000 cases. Another New Zealand brand, Oyster Bay, increased 15.3% to 1.11 million cases, and Constellation’s Kiwi label Kim Crawford advanced 18.2% to 1.62 million cases. All four recently earned Impact “Hot Brand” honors.

“Kim Crawford, which is the No. 1 New Zealand wine brand in the U.S., is playing a major factor in the growth of the entire New Zealand wine segment,” says Julie Rossman, vice president of marketing at Constellation Brands. “We’re also seeing Sauvignon Blanc become one of the fastest-growing varietal segments in the category and one of the top IRI share gainers amongst all wine varietals.”

No. 1 import Yellow Tail accounted for 7 million cases last year—a 6.7% advance over 2019. “During the pandemic, consumers chose brands that they know and trust, and that were top of mind,” explains Tom Steffanci, president of importer Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits. “We increased our investment in digital advertising, couponing, and e-commerce to continue to meet the changing needs of our consumers.” In recent days, Yellow Tail unveiled Pure Bright, a new lower-alcohol, lower-calorie offshoot, to further boost its momentum.

Additionally, Deutsch’s Layer Cake brand has performed well with its imported offerings. The two top-selling Layer Cake varietals are Australian Shiraz and Argentinian Malbec, and the brand shifted sourcing of its Sauvignon Blanc from California to New Zealand to take advantage of the robust consumer interest in that segment. Layer Cake grew 7.7% to 330,000 cases in the U.S. last year, according to Impact Databank.

Table wine imports from Argentina rebounded last year. E.&J. Gallo’s Alamos jumped 9.9% to 840,000 cases, moving it up one spot to become the No. 16 imported table wine in the U.S. in 2020. “The reasonable price and high quality make Alamos a great recommendation for current wine consumers to experiment with imports,” says Courtney O’Brien, senior director of marketing for Alamos.

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