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Impact Databank: “Better For You” Wines Projected To Approach 3 Million Cases This Year

September 21, 2021

A few years back, some of the initial players in the low-calorie wine category drew their inspiration from hard seltzers White Claw and Truly, which were already becoming giants in the beverage alcohol industry. But just as the hard seltzer craze appears to be decelerating, vintners continue to capitalize on the fast-rising “better for you” wine segment, as American drinkers increasingly opt for health- and wellness-oriented products. These new wines boast fewer calories, fewer carbohydrates, and lower alcohol—and most of the brands have zero residual sugar. But marketers also get more bang for their buck, as these healthier alternatives generally sell for above-premium prices at retail.

Until recently, Fitvine had been the most widely known brand in the segment. It launched at retail in 2017, initially at Whole Foods, and sources wines from California and Italy. Fitvine ($15 a 750-ml.) averages less than 1 gram of sugar per liter, or less than 0.09 grams per 5-ounce glass. Fitvine depletions registered a 45% increase in 2020, and the brand is expected to reach 450,000 cases by year-end.

Another brand off to a fast start is Kim Crawford’s Illuminate extension ($18), with Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé offerings bottled at 7% abv and containing 70 calories a glass. Also launched last year was Avaline—from actress Cameron Diaz—an organic, vegan-friendly label which touts its use of little-to-no additives. Avaline ($24) sources its wine from Spain (white) and France (Provence rosé). Another up-and-coming brand is Sunny with a Chance of Flowers ($17)—which Scheid Family Wines sources from its Monterey vineyards—with no added sugar, 85 calories per 5-ounce glass, and 9% abv. Precept Wines joins other premium-plus players in this burgeoning category with its Cense ($15) label, which has four bottled SKUs and three wine spritzer SKUs in cans.

The Wine Group filled a void at the $10 price point with its Cupcake Lighthearted brand, which launched last summer and has 80 calories a 5-ounce serving at 8% abv and less than a gram of sugar. This year, The Wine Group broadened the category’s appeal further with the debut of Franzia Refreshers, selling in 3-liter boxes retailing at around $15. Impact Databank projects Refreshers to become the category’s largest-selling brand by year-end.

In addition to Franzia Refreshers, 2021 has brought an influx of even more launches across various price points. Delicato entered the “better for you” segment with Bota Box Breeze in the 3-liter box sector ($23 per box). Other recent introductions from major players include Kendall-Jackson Lower Calorie Chardonnay ($17) from Jackson Family Wines, Mind & Body ($13) from Trinchero Family Estates, Evenly ($15) from Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, and Yellow Tail Pure Bright from Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits in the popular-priced segment, and Fun Wine (59 calories per 5-ounce pour).

Adjacent to the “better for you” category are numerous wine-based seltzers and spritzers. According to Nielsen IQ, low-calorie wine dollar sales (including low-carb and low-sugar wines) rose 123.5% during the 13-week summer-selling season ending September 4, even when compared against last summer—when the off-premise enjoyed a pandemic-driven surge. In the 52 weeks ending September 4, low-calorie wines soared 172% to an aggregate of $152.6 million in Nielsen channels. Overall, “better for you” wines nearly doubled in volume terms in 2020 and are expected to accelerate further and approach 3 million cases in the U.S. by year-end, according to Impact Databank.—Juan Banaag

U.S.—Leading “Better for You” Wine Brands 
(thousands of 9-liter case depletions)
Brand Company Origin 2020 2021P Percent
Franzia Refreshers The Wine Group California 500 +
Fitvine Fitvine California/Italy 317 450 42%
Bota Box Breeze Delicato Family Wines California 400 +
Cupcake Lighthearted The Wine Group California 107 300 180%
Kendall-Jackson Lower Calorie Chardonnay Jackson Family Wines California 160 +
Fun Wine Fun Wine USA Multiple Origins 51 150 194%
Kim Crawford Illuminate Constellation Brands New Zealand 13 120 852%
Avaline Avaline Spain/France 21 65 210%
Sunny With a Chance of Flowers Scheid Family Wines California 11 60 445%
Total Leading Brands 520 2,205 324%
1 Based on unrounded data.
Source: IMPACT DATABANK © 2021
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