Effervescent Prosecco: Record wine exports to U.S.


Italian wine exports to the United States hit an all-time high of €1.8 billion last year led by a 28.5 percent surge in Prosecco sparkling wines, according to industry analysis company Nomisma Wine Monitor based in Bologna.

But without the wildly popular champagne-like vintages, Italian wine imports into America would have grown just 1 percent.

“Imports in the main world markets continue to be driven by sparkling wines,” said Denis Pantini, head of Nomisma.
Italian Prosecco
Prosecco DOC is produced in nine provinces spanning the Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions of northeastern Italy (Lorenzo Benetton).

The Italian Wine & Food Institute said the nation’s wine exports to the U.S. hit 2.53 million hectoliters in 2016, a decrease of 0.5 percent in quantity, but had an increased value of 3.1 percent.

Italian red wine exports to the U.S. were dragged down by Tuscan reds that showed “a 5.5 percent drop in value, not so much due to a structural decrease, but rather by the unfavorable comparison with 2015’s boom in the sales of the remarkable Brunello di Montalcino, a performance that was not repeated last year,” said Pantini.

He noted that Italy’s most direct competitor France continues to fetch higher export prices, on average €11.90 per bottle compared with €7.60 from Italy.

Combined sales in the top 10 wine importing countries, which together account for 70 percent of the world market, grew by 3.8 percent in the first five months of last year to hit €7.3 billion for the period. The U. S. and Japan grew by more than 4 percent, while Germany and the UK both decreased almost 6 percent.

The biggest boosts came from Russia, which after two years of declines, increased wine imports by 9 percent, and China, which by mid-year had already imported the same value as Switzerland did in all of 2015, some €1 billion worth of wine.

There was a significant decrease in U.S. wine imports from Australia last year (a decrease of 13.6 percent) and Argentina (26 percent decrease), while exports increased from Chile (19 percent increase) and New Zealand (14 percent increase).