CALIFORNIA -- Despite an economy in which some wineries' revenues were off by double-digits last year, California winery shipments to U.S. markets were nearly unchanged in volume, according to industry analyst figures released today. Yet aggressive discounting of wines to maintain that volume resulted in revenue from those shipments dipping 3.2 percent to $17.9 billion.

California shipments domestically grew 0.2 percent from 2008 to 468 million gallons, or about 197 million standard 12-bottle cases, according to Woodside-based Gomberg Fredrikson & Associates. The state accounted for 61 percent of wine sales in the U.S. last year.

By comparison, during the oversupply and economic recession of 2000-2001 volume sales of California wine decreased 1.3 percent from 1999 to 2000 and from 2001 to 2002.

“Although consumers were cautious in their spending last year, the underlying consumer trends in the U.S. have kept wine on the dinner table during this tough economy," said Bobby Koch, Wine Institute president and chief executive officer. "The baby boomer generation has enjoyed wine for decades, and now millennial consumers, who grew up in families who served wine, are also showing an affinity for wine.”

Wines may be staying on home dinner tables more these days, but the same scaling back in consumer spending as well as trimming business expense accounts took a bite out of restaurant wine sales, according to Gomberg Fredrikson research. On-premise wine sales decreased 6 percent to 9 percent last year. To compensate, some wine producers have been shifting their restaurant sales to retail or direct-to-consumer channels, according to the firm.

Wine sales in domestic food stores grew 2 percent by volume in 2009, buoyed by U.S. producers, according to The Nielsen Co. data cited by the Wine Institute. Leading sales were wines retailing for less than $7 a bottle, commanding 72 percent of sales volume and increasing 2 percent from the year before. Growth in other price tiers was led by the $10 to $14 wines, up 7 percent from 2008; $7 to $10, increased 3 percent; and pricier than $14, 2 percent.

California sparkling wines benefited from the weaker U.S. dollar, increasing 8 percent by volume last year from 2008 to 33 million gallons.

Gomberg Fredrikson noted that the continued trend of California bulk wine exports to foreign markets for bottling and distribution to save on transportation costs was reflected in the 22 percent decrease in the value of exports to the European Union last year to $380 million.

Wine shipments

(in millions of gallons and billions of dollars)

Year CA to U.S. and exportChg.CA wine to U.S.Chg.Retail value of CA to U.S. Chg.Dom., imports to U.S.Chg.Retail value to U.S. Chg.2009563.5-1.2%467.70.2%$17.9-3.2%7671.9%$28.7-4.3%2008570.22.7%466.72.1%$18.5-2.1%7530.9%$30.0-1.3%2007555.12.8%457.32.1%$18.96.2%7463.9%$30.49.4%2006539.91.3%4481.5%$17.87.9%7183.8%$27.87.8%2005532.82.1%441.23.0%$16.510.0%6924.1%$25.87.5%2004521.75.7%428.22.7%$15.04.9%6654.1%$24.07.6%2003493.56.3%4174.0%$14.33.6%6393.6%$22.32.3%2002464.23.4%4013.6%$13.83.0%6177.5%$21.87.4%2001449.10.7%387-1.3%$13.43.1%5741.1%$20.35.7%2000445.90.6%392-1.3%$13.00.0%5684.6%$19.26.1%1999443.12.5%3973.1%$13.08.3%5433.2%$18.16.5%1998432.5385$12.0526$17.0

Sources: Wine Institute, U.S. Department of Commerce, Gomberg, Gredrikson & Associates

Includes table, sparkling and dessert wines but excludes California shipments of bulk wine to foreign markets