Consumer thirst for branded wines such as Blossom Hill has driven the US closer towards overtaking France in the UK’s wine market, with the gap halving in the past year.
US wine makers had set a goal to overtake France by 2007, which would put the US at number two behind Australia.
New figures from ACNielsen, published today by The Grocer, show that they are on course to reach their target as sales of US wine in the UK rocketed by 15% last year to £648m.
Meanwhile, sales of French wines dipped 3% on this side of the Channel to rest at £760m.
The gap between France and the US in the off-trade is £112m, down from £222m in 2004.
Australia still dominates the UK market with sales up 9% in the past year from £928m to £1,008m. It has six in the top ten off-trade brands, including Hardys and Jacob’s Creek.
ACNielsen’s figures show key Californian brands Blossom Hill and Ernest & Julio Gallo are driving US wine growth, as consumers favour New World big brands over Old World classics. The region also captivated consumers in 2005 with its diverse range of rosés.
Jane Hunter, director of marketing for Western Europe at Ernest & Julio Gallo, said: “We are very excited about the possibility of overtaking France.”
French producers struggling to sell in the UK are demanding support from their government.
>>p42 Passing of the old order; p66 NZ heads New World growth

Sonya Hook
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