California wine gets an international lift. But is it enough?
on 27/05/11 at 4:47 pmIndustry
California winemakers are breaking out the party hats. Exports are booming. Foreign shipments rebounded to a record $1.14-billion (U.S.) in 2010, up 25.6 per cent from 2009. Numbers like that no doubt made Arnold Schwarzenegger’s day – until the Terminator’s day – and more critically, his wife, Maria Shriver’s – imploded after news he fathered a love child with a member of their household staff. The governor had been a big grape crusader, appearing in TV ads while enjoying a glass with Ms. Shriver as well as promoting wine on trade missions, which included an appearance at a Toronto liquor store in 2007. Credit for the surge also goes to the economic recovery and, not least, favourable currency exchange rates that make the wine more affordable in key markets, such as Canada, which accounts for about a quarter of foreign sales.
It’s a cause for celebration, yes, but what strikes me about the export total is not how large it is but how small. Australia, a much smaller producer, ships away almost twice as much wine in dollar terms as the United States. New Zealand, a relative pipsqueak in terms of overall production, also has been aggressive in foreign markets, exporting about $800-million (U.S.) worth of wine, almost as much as California.