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US wine exports up almost 11% last year as COVID-19 effects lessened

U.S. wine exports increased by 10.6% in value in 2021 to $1.44 billion as the global marketplace rebounded from the severe effects of the coronavirus pandemic, according to new data released by the Wine Institute, the leading wine industry trade group in California.

California produces about 81% of all wine in the United States, but the Golden State represents 95% of all exported wine.

“While we continue to see some challenges in the international marketplace for U.S. wine exports, we’re encouraged that export data shows a trend toward countering the impact of the global pandemic, retaliatory tariffs, unfavorable exchange rates and other external circumstances,” Honore Comfort, vice president of international marketing Wine Institute, said in a statement.

The group wants to increase California wine exports by $2.5 billion over the next decade.

Canada was the largest export market for U.S. wines with a 36% market share and exports there resulted in 11.5% growth from 2020 to 2021. The second largest market was the United Kingdom with an overall 13.6% share, though shipments were down 20% on a year-over-year basis. The 27 member countries of the European Union were third with a 13.2% overall share, though exports dipped 0.4% from 2020 to 2021.

Vintage Wine Estates revenue up

Vintage Wine Estates of Santa Rosa on Monday reported net revenue growth of $78.9 million for the third quarter, which was a 68% increase over the same period a year ago as cash flow was boosted along with some recent key purchases.

The jump in revenue comes after the wine company, which owns B.R. Cohn Winery in Glen Ellen and Kunde Family Winery in Kenwood, has made some key acquisitions late last year that include Ace Cider of Sebastopol and Vinesse, a Napa-based direct-to-consumer wine company. The new companies contributed $11.4 million in revenue for the third quarter.

The company’s net income was $2.8 million for the quarter that ended March 31, which was an increase over the $873,000 loss for the same period a year ago. Vintage Wine Estates noted that tasting room traffic increased by 45% for the quarter as more visitors are stopping at its wineries across the state as the pandemic wanes.

The company recently acquired two local cannabis-infused drink brands, Gem + Jane and House of Saka, as it seeks to grow in that emerging market. Chief Executive Officer Pat Roney said in a conference call the company had almost $248 million in liquidity available for further acquisitions.

Stackhouse joins Dutton-Goldfield as winemaker

Dutton-Goldfield in Sebastopol has hired industry veteran Melissa Stackhouse as its new winemaker.

Stackhouse will serve under the direction of owner and winemaker Dan Goldfield and will be involved in all aspects of its winemaking, including overseeing the management of its custom crush clients.

She has had a parallel history with Goldfield as they both received degrees in viticulture and enology from University of California, Davis, apprenticed at Robert Mondavi Winery in the Napa Valley and served as winemaker at La Crema in Sonoma County. Stackhouse also has been noted for her work at J Vineyards & Winery in Healdsburg for its premium sparkling wine and Burgundian varietals.

“Melissa is a hugely experienced and esteemed colleague within our wonderful circle of associates in the Russian River,” Goldfield said in a statement. He owns the winery with Steve Dutton. “Melissa will manage our production facility where we make our wines and provide custom crush services to select clients, as well as be a full partner and leader in crafting our wines and representing us in the world. It’s a huge pleasure to have her here.”

Compiled by Bill Swindell. Submit items to bill.swindell@pressdemocrat.com.

Bill Swindell

Business, Beer and Wine, The Press Democrat  

In the North Coast, we are surrounded by hundreds of wineries along with some of the best breweries, cidermakers and distillers. These industries produce an abundance of drinks as well as good stories – and those are what I’m interested in writing. I also keep my eye on our growing cannabis industry and other agricultural crops, which have provided the backbone for our food-and-wine culture for generations.

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