The United States will remain the top market for Italian wines for the foreseeable future, according to a study conductede by Nomisma Wine Monitor, Italy’s economic research firm. The U.S. emerged as Italian wines’ largest market based on value. U.S. sales are expected to top $2.49 billion (€2 billion) in 2022, which is up from $1.99 billion (€1.6 billion) last year.
Italian sparklers, led by Prosecco, grew 240% over the past 10 years, researchers said. On average, sparkling wines from other countries, including France, Spain, Germany and the United States, grew 50% over the same period.
The study, which was released on Tuesday—two weeks before the Italian wine exposition Vinitaly opens—expects Italian wine exports to grow 22.5% by 2022, enjoying an annual-growth rate of about 4.5%.
Germany and the United Kingdom follow as the second and the third largest importers of Italian wines, respectively, but their markets, which are smaller, are expected to grow at slower pace, with a 2.5% and 5% rise, respectively, by 2022.
“The trend that emerges globally, but particularly in the United States, is that of a ‘premiumization’ of Italian wines, which means growing sales for wines of higher price ranges,” said Denis Pantini, a Nomisma analyst, who worked on the research.
“Another trend is the strong growth in the consumption of sparkling wines, which are leading Italian wine exports, and are particularly popular among young consumers,” he said.
Nomisma does not consider the U.S. a mature market.
“Data shows that 64% of Italian wine consumption is concentrated in only five states—New York, California, New Jersey, Florida and Texas—while in the rest of the country it is still very low,” said Giovanni Mantovani, director general of Veronafiere, Vinitaly’s organizer.
“We are watching closely states like Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Colorado, as we consider them the ones with a higher growth potential,” he added.
The study also looked at Italy’s international growth. Projections show that sales to China are expected are also expected to soar 38.5% by 2022 for a total value of €198 million. Nomisma’s analysts said growth rates for China are based on the continued expansion of its middle class, or those urban households earning $9,000 to $34,000 a year.
Vinitaly runs from April 15-18.