The domestic wine industry wilted in 2009, rocked by the recession and tightening wine markets around the world. According to figures released today by the Wine Institute, a San Francisco trade group, wine exports in 2009 decreased 14.9 percent from the previous year to 417.9 million liters - or 46.4 million nine-liter cases. The value of wine exports dropped 9.5 percent to some $911.8 million in winery revenues.
While the wine industry nutures its collective hangover, there are signs that the market may rebound in 2010.
"The California wine industry was not immune to the global recession, but faired better than most wine producing countries," said Robert P. Koch, Wine Institute president and chief executive officer, in a statement. "Fourth quarter sales were up nearly 16 percent compared to the same period in 2008, giving us reason to believe that 2010 will be a good year."
Exports to the European Union proved to be especially tough in 2009. Volume shipments slid 21 percent in 2009 compared to the previous year. 42 percent of domestic wine exports are shipped to Europe.
"2009 was a tough year in an already highly competitive UK wine market, with pressure on prices, reductions in stock holdings, and cutbacks in the number of wine offerings occurring in all sectors," said John McLaren, Wine Institute trade director for the United Kingdom.
But, there was good news in Japan, where the United States overtook Chile as the largest bulk wine exporter to Japan. Bulk table wine exports to Japan were up 42 percent by volume and 34.4 percent in U.S. dollars.