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Wine sales up, imports still strong

By Dave Buchanan
From the 2008 Unified Wine & Grape Symposium held Jan. 29-31 in Sacramento, Cal. comes these notes, courtesy of several sources. Bob Krauter at Capitol Press in Sacramento reported wine interest continues to soar in the U.S., where consumers last year spent $30 billion buying 314 million cases of wine, a 4 percent increase over 2006.
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Wines sales of bottles costing $12 or more (the so-called super-premium level) jumped 20 percent although domestic wines didn’t keep up with imports, particularly in restaurant sales. Of those 314 million cases, 100 million were imported wines. In restaurants, imports grab 43 percent of the market, according to Josh Greene, editor and publisher of Wine & Spirits Magazine. Jim Downing of the Sacramento Bee quotes Greene as saying a new generation of young sommeliers is looking both to have fun with their wine selections and also make a statement. To do that, Greene said, they need “to find a wine they’re as excited about as the chef is” about his flavorful discoveries at the local farmers market. And speaking of sommeliers and wine stewards, Downing reported that although sommeliers purchase only a small proportion of the wine sold, they have a much greater impact on determining future industry trends.