California Wines

Wine Institute Asia Tour in Guangzhou

California wine exports down 4.8% in value

09 April, 2019

US wine exports reached $1.47bn in winery revenues and 375m liters (41.7 million cases) in 2018, with more than 90% coming from California.

According to California Wines, total exports were down 4.8% in value and 1.2% in volume because of the strong dollar, retaliatory tariffs and competition from foreign wine producers who benefit from free trade agreements in key markets.

“California wines performed well under very challenging circumstances as top markets continued to embrace our reputation for premium quality, leadership in sustainable winegrowing and diverse offerings,” said Robert P. Koch, president and CEO of Wine Institute. 

“Strong marketing programs that invite international consumers to connect with California as a world-class destination and wine producing region continued to generate new fans among media, trade and consumers.”

California wine exports have grown nearly 60% by value in the past decade and Wine Institute’s California Wine Export Program includes more than 170 wineries that export to 142 countries.

The top 10 export markets for California wines are:

European Union $469m

Canada $449m

Hong Kong $130m 

Japan $93m

China $59m

Mexico $27m

South Korea $25m

Nigeria $15m

Dominican Republic $14m

Singapore $14m

“We have made critical progress on trade agreements with the UK, Mexico and Canada, and we continue to advocate for wine tariff elimination in key markets including China and Japan,” added Charles Jefferson, Wine Institute vice president of federal and international public policy. 

“Wine Institute will continue fighting for a level playing field and the removal of trade barriers in markets around the world.”

Wine Institute’s regional trade directors have reported on the 2018 export figures: 


“US wines continued to experience modest growth in value in the Canadian market during 2018 despite a decrease in volume. Although a weak Canadian dollar has led to rising retail prices, Canadian consumers continue to buy premium and super-premium priced California wines,” according to Rick Slomka, Wine Institute trade director for Canada. “California continues to enjoy a reputation for producing high quality wines at affordable prices. With ongoing liquor board promotions and new product introductions, this momentum is expected to continue.  As the retail landscape for wine sales in Canada evolves, we look forward to continued growth in government liquor stores but also anticipate greater access to new grocery distribution channels.” 

United Kingdom

US wine exports to the UK showed strong volume growth in 2018 (up 15% vs. 2017) while recording a slight softening in value (down 1.4%). “This is an impressive result considering that the British pound closed the year at $1.26 against the US dollar versus its pre-Brexit buying power of $1.55 or higher. These currency headwinds impacted the value/volume mix of many importers. At the same time, volume growth has resulted from growing trade interest and sales of Californian wines under £20. This has been a key focus of our California Wine Institute programs in the UK and was the central theme of our recent “Essential California Tasting” in London which was praised by the trade for its focus,” said Damien Jackman, Wine Institute trade director, UK and Ireland.

Keywords: California Wines

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