Rioja Wine Sales Reach All-Time High
NEW YORK - Sales of Rioja wine reached an all-time high in 2006, with more than 261 million liters sold and a 4.3 percent growth over 2005. The United States established itself as an important market for Rioja as it rose to the number three foreign export market with 6.8 million liters sold in 2006, an increase by 12.9 percent over the previous year. The U.S. is proving its dedication to Rioja wines not only in sales; a survey conducted by ACNielsen showed that brand awareness of Rioja stands at 31 percent and loyalty ratio to the wines boasted an astounding 81 percent.
“The increase in Rioja wine sales to the United States is a direct reflection of an increased effort to educate the U.S. population on Spanish wines, Rioja in particular,” said Victor Pascual, president of the Consejo Regulador de la Denominación de Origen Calificada Rioja, the regulatory board that oversees wine production for the Rioja region located in North-central Spain. ”We anticipate sales to trend upward in the coming years, and are committed to showcasing Rioja’s great value, innovation and versatility in targeted outreach to American consumers.”
With strong sales in key European markets, including the United Kingdom and Germany, Spanish wines are proving to be the fastest-growing European wine producer and Rioja is emerging as the largest category of Spanish wines. Rioja’s growing trend of sustained growth in recent years can be attributed to several factors including ever-increasing popularity of the Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva varieties, three important categories for the region. Increased sales in recent years have allowed for increased production of these varieties, which ultimately leads to greater added value on the market. In addition, renovation and expansion of several bodegas in Rioja have given the region a boost in tourism and travel, establishing it as a host of Old World European wine tradition, while it embraces some modern practices of the New World, making it unique in its own right. Rioja wine producers also are looking towards “bio-climatic” practices, giving the wines an edge in a world where “eco-friendly” products are rapidly gaining attention.
With strong competition from domestic wine regions such as Napa and Sonoma Valley and other foreign wine regions, 31 percent brand awareness of Rioja in the Unites States is a significant trend to monitor. In a somewhat cluttered wine category, Rioja has managed to distinguish itself as a leading wine region, promoting its excellent food-pairing qualities and “ready-to-drink” status to consumers. Retaining loyal customers also is a feat Rioja has accomplished, by consistently producing high-quality, aged varietals to the market at a reasonable cost.
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