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California Sparklers Expand At The High End

July 26, 2021

While much of the attention in the U.S. sparkling wine market has been focused on Prosecco recently, California sparkling wines have also been making strides, particularly at the higher end, as consumers continue to trade up in their drinks choices. Growth among domestic sparklers has been concentrated mostly in the above-$15 segment lately.

Moët Hennessy USA’s Domaine Chandon leads the above-$15 domestic segment, increasing 1.5% to just under a half-million cases last year, according to Impact Databank. Chandon recently introduced a new Spritz offering nationally, noting that as many as one in four sparkling wine drinkers are now consuming in a Spritz or cocktail format. Chandon’s Garden Spritz ($21 a 750-ml.) is made at the brand’s sister winery in Argentina, with Valencia oranges, fresh herbs, and spices.

The upscale Schramsberg brand, handled by Wilson Daniels, has likewise been on the upswing, advancing 4% to 83,000 cases last year. Rocco Lombardo, president of Wilson Daniels, tells SND that Schramsberg accelerated as the stay-at-home orders began last year. “From June 2020-Dec 2020 alone, our depletions of Schramsberg were up 22%, driven by the classic range of Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs, and Brut Rosé. This acceleration has continued in 2021, to the extent that as we pass the middle of the year, we’ll start to realize some supply challenges, most specifically with Blanc de Blancs,” he says. Through May, Schramsberg was up 35%, with strong performances in New York, California, Texas, and Florida in both the on- and off-premise. “It feels like all our oars are in the water right now, and moving in a positive direction,” adds Schramsberg president and CEO Hugh Davies.

Pernod Ricard’s Mumm Napa is also carving out an increasing presence, with volume jumping 16% to above 400,000 cases last year. Over the last decade the brand has more than doubled in size, boosted by its visitor program, which prior to the pandemic was garnering about 120,000 guests a year.

Likewise making gains in the above-$15 segment, New Mexico sparkler Gruet is one of the few domestic entrants produced outside California. Gruet was up 15% to 219,000 cases last year. Sales and marketing partner Precept Wines tells SND the brand has maintained its double-digit depletion growth this year and is bullish on its demi-sec offering, which can provide an entry point to the brand from sweeter wines and Prosecco.

At a slightly lower price point, Korbel showed solid growth of 3.9% to just under 1.5 million cases. Among its recent marketing moves, Korbel debuted a campaign called “Make It Gold,” which “offers an inspirational message that encourages elevating what otherwise might be ordinary moments,” according to the company.—Shane English

Leading Domestic Sparkling Wines Retailing At $15 And Over1
(thousands of 9-liter cases)
Brand Company Origin 2019 2020 Percent
Change2
Domaine Chandon Moët Hennessy USA California 486 493 1.5%
Mumm Napa Pernod Ricard USA California 348 402 15.5%
Gruet Precept Wines New Mexico 190 219 15.0%
Roederer Estate Maisons Marques & Domaines California 105 95 -9.5%
Gloria Ferrer3 Freixenet Mionetto USA California 92 84 -8.7%
Schramsberg Schramsberg Vineyards Co California 80 83 3.8%
1 Average off-premise price per 750-ml.
2 Based on unrounded data.
3 Excludes still wine.Source: IMPACT DATABANK © 2021
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