The wine landscape in the nation's restaurants shifted in 2007, according to Restaurant Wine magazine, the bimonthly journal for the hospitality and wine industries.
In two new reports researched and written by Master of Wine and publisher Ronn Wiegand, the Top 100 Wine Brands and Top 100 Individual Wines sold in USA restaurants in 2007 are listed, based on total 9-liter cases consumed across the entire spectrum of American restaurants licensed to serve wine, from casual to fine dining restaurants.
While the on-premise wine market continued to grow in 2007, the rate of growth fell amid a market slowdown starting in August 2007 and coinciding with a malaise in oil and credit markets, Wiegand said in an interview.
Sales were booming through July but the slowdown toward the end of the year dragged down what could have been a stellar year on-premise, he said. "An expected blow out at years' end just didn't happen. It was a modest party at the end of the year -- not the major celebration people were hoping for," Wiegand said, referring to the typical spike in wine sales that occurs before the holiday season."
Wiegand said 68.8 million cases of wine were sold in U.S. restaurants in 2007, up 5.8 percent in volume over 2006. He said that while 2007 was a good year in terms of total volume, 2008 could turn out to be the first year in recent memory in which overall restaurant sales volumes decline.
"This year we will be lucky to hit 65 million cases of wine sold in restaurants, the same level as 2005, which is a decline in real terms because there are more restaurants."
Changes Among the Top 100 Wine Brands
Although the on-premise market for wine grew in 2007, the share held by the Top 100 Wine Brands dipped slightly, to 41.5 percent, because of increased competition, Wiegand notes in the new report.
The Top 100 Wine Brands come from only six countries: Australia, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, and the USA. Of these, only Australia lost market share in 2007, due primarily to supply problems.
Seven brands appear on the 2007 list that were not present on the 2006 list. They are: MacMurray Ranch (#48); Toasted Head (#79); Vino Casata (#82); Canyon Road (#84); Concannon (#85); Red Rock Winery (#87); Bogle (#92); Domaine Chandon (#95); and Gabbiano (96).
The minimum case sales in USA restaurants required to make the 2007 list rose to 110,000 cases, up from 105,000 cases for the 2006 list.
The five brands with the greatest sales volume increases on-premise from 2006 to 2007 were: Red Rock Winery (+243 percent); MacMurray Ranch (+110 percent); Smoking Loon (+81.8 percent); Canyon Road (+71.4 percent); and Barefoot Cellars (+66.7 percent)
(Red Rock Winery is a relatively new brand from E&J Gallo which debuted in 2006).
Changes Among the Top 100 Individual Wines
In terms of varietal wines, the big winners in 2007 on-premise in terms of case sales among the Top 100 Individual Wines were Pinot Noir (+89 percent), Riesling (+45 percent), and Pinot Grigio (+22.5 percent).
Chardonnay sales among the Top 100 Individual Wines grew a respectable 7 percent, accounting for 30 percent (by volume) of the 100 most popular wines consumed on-premise in the USA in 2007.
For the first time ever, Pinot Grigio ranked behind Chardonnay as the second most popular varietal wine in USA restaurants in 2007, surpassing White Zinfandel, whose Top 100 sales declined by 15 percent.
For the first time ever, a Sauvignon Blanc and a Sangiovese made it to the Top 100 list of the most popular wines sold in USA restaurants. The wines: Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc and Ruffino Chianti.
The five wines whose on-premise volumes increased the most from 2006 to 2007 were: Sycamore Lane Pinot Grigio (+2,000); Louis M. Martini Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon (+280 percent); Red Rock Winery Merlot (+243 percent); Whitehaven Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (+157 percent); and Schmitt Soehne Relax Riesling from Germany (+129 percent).
(Sycamore Lane Pinot Grigio, the wine that increased the most by volume in the survey, is another new varietal introduced in 2006, from Trinchero Family Estates).
The five wines whose on-premise volumes declined the most from 2006 to 2007 were: Shiraz, down 22 percent, primarily because of supply problems in Australia; generic wines, down 20 percent; White Zinfandel, down 15 percent; and Merlot which fell by 9 percent.
The minimum case sales in USA restaurants required to make the 2007 individual wines list rose to 80,000 cases, up from 75,000 cases for the 2006 list.
Figures for both reports were drawn from reliable industry sources and from extensive interviews with restaurateurs, distributors, importers, and wineries.
The "Top 100 Wine Brands" and "Top 100 Wines" lists are published only in Restaurant Wine, in the double issue (#125-126). Single copies are available for $50/each in the USA, prepaid, or $56/each (prepaid in $US) in all other countries, and may be ordered online at www.restaurantwine.com.
RESTAURANT WINE "TOP 20 of the TOP 100 WINE BRANDS" ON-PREMISE 2007
07 RANKING (VOLUME)
1 Beringer Vineyards, Foster's Wine Estates Americas
2 Kendall-Jackson, USA, Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates
3 Franzia Winetaps, USA, The Wine Group
4 Yellow Tail, Australia, W.J. Deutsch & Sons, Ltd.
5 Sutter Home, USA, Trinchero Family Estates
6 Inglenook, USA, The Wine Group
7 Copperidge, USA, E. & J. Gallo Winery
8 Cavit, Italy, Palm Bay Imports
9 Woodbridge, USA, VineOne (Constellation)
10 Foxhorn Vineyards, USA, The Wine Group
11 Salmon Creek, USA, Classic Wines of California (Bronco)
12 Almaden, USA, The Wine Group
13 Chateau Ste. Michelle, USA, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates
14 Ecco Domani, Italy, E. & J. Gallo Winery
15 Taylor California Cellars, USA Centerra Wine Co. (Constellation)
16 Stone Cellars, USA, Foster's Wine Estates Americas
17 Sycamore Lane, USA, Trinchero Family Estates
18 La Terre Table, USA, VineOne (Constellation)
19 Mezzacorona, Sparkling, Italy, Prestige Wine Imports Corp.
20 Martini & Rossi Vermouth Vermouth Italy Bacardi USA, Inc.
RESTAURANT WINE "TOP 20 of the TOP 100 INDIVIDUAL WINES" OF 2007 ON-PREMISE
2007 RANKING (VOLUME)
1 Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay USA
2 Beringer Vineyards White Zinfandel USA
3 Cavit Pinot Grigio Italy
4 Sutter Home White Zinfandel USA
5 Inglenook Chablis USA
6 Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio Italy
7 Yellow Tail Chardonnay Australia
8 Copperidge Chardonnay USA
9 Yellow Tail Shiraz Australia
10 Franzia Winetaps Vintner Select White Zinfandel USA
11 Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio Italy
12 Franzia Winetaps Vintner Select Chardonnay USA
13 Woodbridge Chardonnay USA
14 Wycliff Brut USA
15 Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio Italy
16 Taylor California Cellars Chablis USA
17 Martini & Rossi Vermouth Dry Vermouth Italy
18 Foxhorn Vineyards Chardonnay USA
19 Sutter Home Chardonnay USA
20 Blackstone Merlot USA