2009 ‘Brutal’ for California Wine

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Wine is getting cheaper, and that's a good thing.

    “Brutal,” ‘ugly” and “a financial heart attack” were used to describe the last year's sales at an annual meeting for the wine industry.

    As growers and distributors gathered for the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium 2010 in Sacramento Wednesday night, the keynote speaker, John Fredrikson, a wine-business consultant, prepared a look back as well as the year ahead.

    "Usually, we're raving about how great the year was," Fredrikson said. “But this was probably the worst year you ever had."

    Despite the nation's continued slump, "we're beginning to see slight improvement in some areas" of the wine industry, Frederikson said, particularly among the lowest-priced brands. "It's going to take a while, but we'll come back."

    For the first 11 months of 2009, California wine shipments were down an estimated 4 million cases, a drop of nearly 4 percent from 2008, the Sacramento Bee reports. For the entire domestic wine market, shipments were down by 3 million cases.

    However, value wines and the companies that focused on them saw some growth. California's top seven wine producers, including E.&J. Gallo and Constellation, enjoyed overall growth of 6.9 million cases, the paper reported.