U.S. Passes France as World’s Biggest Wine-Consuming Nation

The U.S. passed France as the world’s largest wine-consuming nation for the first time, lifted by its larger population and an interest in wine-and-cheese culture among young Americans.

Wine shipments to the U.S. climbed 2 percent to 329.7 million cases last year, according to Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates, a wine-industry consulting firm in Woodside, California. That compares with 320.6 million for France.

While the French still eclipse Americans in per-capita consumption, the U.S. wine industry is benefiting from a domestic population of almost 311 million people -- five times the size of France’s -- and a surge of young people becoming interested in the drink. Marketers also are using social media to reach a new generation of consumers, said Jon Fredrikson, the firm’s president.

“Wine is really gaining traction in the U.S. -- it’s becoming an accepted part of everyday life,” Fredrikson said in an interview. “That’s a radical change over the past two decades.”

The retail value of U.S. wine sales rose 4 percent to $30 billion in 2010, according to Gomberg Fredrikson. California’s output accounted for 61 percent of the volume. The state’s worldwide wine shipments climbed 2 percent to 241.8 million cases.

Photographer: Ryan Anson/Bloomberg

Ryan Hill, a representative of Hill Family Estate Winery, pours a glass of 2010 "Tiara" Sauvignon Blanc at the Premiere Napa Valley 2011 in St. Helena, California. Close

Ryan Hill, a representative of Hill Family Estate Winery, pours a glass of 2010 "Tiara"... Read More

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Photographer: Ryan Anson/Bloomberg

Ryan Hill, a representative of Hill Family Estate Winery, pours a glass of 2010 "Tiara" Sauvignon Blanc at the Premiere Napa Valley 2011 in St. Helena, California.

“With the U.S. being the biggest, it means we’re a target for everyone in America and around the world that produces wine,” Fredrikson said. “Everyone wants to be here.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Ryan Flinn in San Francisco at rflinn@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Thomas Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net

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