U.S. Wines Reign Supreme in Canada as the #1 Import Category

Sales of California Wines surpass both Italy and France

Burlington, ON– For the first time in history, United States (U.S) wine imports, – 90 per cent from California – reached $1 billion in retail sales in 2014, surpassing Italy and France for the top spot in Canada. With a record 6.1 million cases (9L cases) being sold, Canada is now the largest export market for California wines.

California wine sales experienced strong growth in all provinces across Canada making it the largest import category in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba; second in Ontario and third in Quebec. Of the top seven import sources, wine from the U.S. is the fastest growing category nationally, outpacing Italy, France, Australia , Chile, Argentina, and Spain.

“California wines continue to outperform its competition in all the major markets across Canada,” according to Rick Slomka, Wine Institute Trade Director for Canada. “Canadian consumers have confidence in the quality and value offered from California and our wines are successful in all price segments. Recent and previous in- store promotions in the major markets have created a solid base and strong momentum for California wines, which will be needed to offset the challenges of a stronger U.S. dollar.

Over the past five years, U.S. wine sales in Canada have grown at a rate of 78 per cent versus the overall wine market which grew at 16 per cent, according to the Canadian Vintners Association Monthly Reports. Fueling that growth is the California wine industry’s unprecedented commitment to Canada, new product innovations, diverse offerings and aggressive marketing programs.

“California wines are popular with both new and sophisticated wine consumers who appreciate the high quality and unique characteristics offered by our wines. California’s iconic lifestyle, scenic landscapes, great wine and food, and emphasis on environmental stewardship have been catching the eyes and the glasses of consumers across Canada,” added Slomka.

Stats at a Glance

Quebec is the largest market for U.S wines in Canada, followed closely by Ontario

  • Alberta has the highest market share (27 per cent) for U.S. wines in Canada meaning that one out of every four bottles of wine sold in Alberta is from California
  • Strongest growth for U.S. wineries is in Alberta, Quebec and New Brunswick
  • California has the largest share in the LCBO VINTAGES category at 21.7 per cent

Wine Institute of California

Wine Institute is the voice for California wine representing more than 1,000 wineries and affiliated businesses from the beautiful and diverse wine regions throughout the state.

As the largest advocacy and public policy association for California wine, and the only group representing the industry at the state, federal and international levels, Wine Institute’s

Officers, Board of Directors and professional staff work to create an environment where the wine community can flourish and contribute in a positive fashion to our nation, state and local communities.

Based in San Francisco, the Wine Institute also has offices in Sacramento, Washington DC, six regions of the U.S. that oversee the work of forty-five state contract consultants, and seven foreign countries. Eighty California vintners provide guidance for the Institute as members and alternates of the Board of Directors.

The Canadian office, based in Burlington, Ontario coordinates a number of promotional activities every year designed to educate and inform media, trade and consumers about the quality and diversity of products available from the Golden State.

As part of Canada’s marketing program, the annual California Wine Fair visits a number of cities across Canada providing an opportunity for trade and consumers to sample the latest vintages and new products from California. This national wine tour also enables the Wine Institute to partner with local charitable organizations to raise funds in support of their programs.

For more information on the Wine Institute of California, visit the website at www.wineinstitute.org, www.discovercaliforniawines.com, and www.calwine.ca.