Wine Market Council and Nielsen Explore Industry Trends

Red wine being poured

A members-only meeting held Friday by the Wine Market Council and Nielsen at Napa’s Culinary Institute of America at Copia provoked a lively discussion of consumer trends in the American wine industry.

John Gillespie, president of the Wine Market Council (WMC), and Danny Brager, senior vice president of Nielsen’s Beverage Alcohol Practice, discussed generational and top consumer trends. Also on hand for insights were Damien Wilson, the Hamel Family Chair of the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University, and Jennifer Pagano, director of research for WMC. Topics ranged from wine in a can, wine freshness and presentation, and perceptions of sweetness and dryness.

Brager’s Takeaways

  • Trading up (premiumization) is firmly entrenched, yet still considerable volume is sold under the $8 price point.
  • Consumption of domestic wine is up, but import competition will only intensify.
  • Availability to the consumer is expanding on several fronts and directions, though growth is uneven.
  • Millennials are critical for growth, however product and retail fragmentation will only continue.

Women and Wine

Of  2,794 survey respondents who identified as wine drinkers, 57 percent were female. The largest percentage (23) were in the 60-69 age group, followed by 18 percent  each within the 30–39 and 50–59 categories. The 40–49 group accounted for 15 percent.

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The Millennial Makeup

The ethnic/racial breakdown of wine consumption was reported as 71 percent Caucasian, 13 percent Hispanic, 9 percent Black/African-American, 4 percent Asian and 2 percent Mixed. However, 45 percent of Millennials in the U.S. identify as multicultural, and that figure is growing.

Domestic Wines Outpace Imports

Domestic wines accounted for 71 percent of consumption last year. Of imports, France tied Italy with respondents in their 20s and finished first with those age 30–39, but ranked second to Italy for consumers in their 40s. Spain was third among all three age groups. Nielsen’s research shows that New Zealand, France and Italy all lead in growth, while Argentina, Chile, Germany, Australia and South Africa are down.

Fastest-Growing Categories

Rosé, red blends, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, sparkling wine and Pinot Gris/Grigio are all on the rise.

Rosé and Sparkling Remain Robust

For the second consecutive year, rosé wines were white hot, accounting for 1.5 percent of all table wine sold. French production led sales with 62 percent of the category, with the U.S. following at 30 percent. The sparkling category, led by Prosecco, grew by 25 percent last year, with sparkling rosé up more than 20 percent.

Published on March 6, 2017
Topics: Wine News + Trends
About the Author
Virginie Boone
Contributing Editor

Reviews wines from California.

Contributing Editor Virginie Boone has been with Wine Enthusiast since 2010, and reviews the wines of Napa and Sonoma. Boone began her writing career with Lonely Planet travel guides, which eventually led to California-focused wine coverage. She contributes to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat and Sonoma Magazine, and is a regular panelist and speaker on wine topics in California and beyond. Email:

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