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Wine Spectator: Cava Bubbles Up

July 5, 2022

American consumers have a thirst for bubbly. Sales of sparkling wine from numerous wine-producing regions continue to be one of the strongest-growing categories in the U.S. market. And while French Champagne and Italian Prosecco are well-known success stories, Spanish Cava emerged as a winner in 2021: Shipments to the United States skyrocketed, ending the year with a record 1.98 million cases, an impressive 40% increase from 2020, according to the Consejo Regulador del Cava.

Over the past decade, Cava producers have taken notable steps to raise quality, including allowing French varieties in the wine’s blend, tightening yields and aging regimens, recognizing production subzones, and more. And even though quality is on the rise, the vast majority of bottlings are still wallet-friendly, available for $20 or less.

That pricing puts Cava soundly on par with most bottles of Prosecco in the U.S. market. Prosecco began its meteoric climb roughly 15 years ago, teaching Americans that sparkling wine could be enjoyed on a more regular basis—not just for special occasions. During the pandemic it seems that the dolce vita mentality of Prosecco transferred to Cava consumption.

“Because of Covid lockdowns and Champagne supply issues, consumers shifted to products more in line with how they were spending their time: more at home—less grand, more cozy celebrations,” said Monica Lafuente, U.S. director of trade development for Campo Viejo Cava, which experienced a 44.1% increase in U.S. case sales from 2020 to 2021. Lafuente also says their market research finds that Cava drinkers are more likely to enjoy their bubbly with a meal.

At Freixenet and Segura Viudas, the No. 1 and No. 3 ranked Cava brands by sales in the U.S., respectively, it wasn’t just about capitalizing on Prosecco’s success. “We decided [in 2019] that it was time to play offense, to better establish the brands within the Cava category, to premiumize the brands, and to refocus on the consumer,” said Enore Ceola, CEO & president of Freixenet Mionetto USA, the U.S. division of sparkling wine powerhouse Henkell Freixenet, which owns both Cava brands as well as Mionetto Prosecco, Alfred Gratien Champagne, California’s Gloria Ferrer, and Germany’s Henkell, among other sparkling wine brands. Wine Spectator has the full story.

U.S.—Top Five Spanish Sparkling Wine Brands
(thousands of 9-liter case depletions)
Rank Brand Importer 2020 2021 Percent
Change1
1 Freixenet Freixenet Mionetto USA 559 582 4.1%
2 Opera Prima CIV USA Inc. 190 358 88.4%
3 Segura Viudas Freixenet Mionetto USA 224 250 11.6%
4 Jaume Serra Cristalino CIV USA Inc. 150 186 24.0%
5 Campo Viejo Pernod Ricard USA 108 155 44.1%
Total Top Five2 1,231 1,531 24.4%
1 Based on unrounded data.
2 Addition of columns may not agree due to rounding.
Source: IMPACT DATABANK © 2022
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