Consumed by statistics on wine production and consumption

Over the many years of writing this column, I have periodically focused on the raw statistics of wine production and consumption in the United States – and elsewhere. This week, I present the latest update for your consideration.

The history of our collective wine consumption is quite unique. Compared to nations in Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, we are rather new to this indulgence. As we trace our wine roots to 18e and 19e Century Spanish missionaries and European immigrants, these countries across the Atlantic Ocean can trace their roots as far back as the Greeks and Romans – 6,000 years ago.

And of course, the United States experienced a small hiatus in wine production and consumption, setting us one step back from other nations. The Prohibition era effectively halted wine production and consumption for over a decade. Realistically, today’s wine industry is less than 100 years old.

But, in typical American fashion, domestic wine consumption accelerated, then caught up and overtook the rest of the world. In 2010, the United States became and continues to be the most consuming country in the world.

Several statistics of wine producers:

There are currently over 10,000 national wineries and tens of thousands of labels.

Annual production is 333 million cases.

The wine is produced commercially in all 50 states. As you’d expect, California leads the pack, accounting for 42% of wineries, but it produces 84% ​​of all wine. In contrast, New York is home to 3.8% (rank 4) of wineries and produces 3.5% (rank 3) of total wine production.

Digging deeper, these statistics are beyond my mind: 84% of national wines are produced by 2% of wineries. Seen from the opposite angle, approximately 7,500 wineries each produce less than 5,000 cases per year.

A few more stats: National wineries account for 65% of overall national consumption, according to the Beverage Information Group, a national tracking organization. These statistics include wine consumed at home and at wine bars, restaurants and group events. I suspect that these last two categories represent a substantial share of total consumption (restaurant house wines, wedding reception wines, corporate events). The main supplier of the remaining 35% is Italy.

Another statistic: Napa Valley claims the most expensive wines in the United States, yet it only produces 3.4% of total wine (despite being California’s number one tourist attraction; Disneyland is number two).

Now, several statistics on wine consumers:

Americans are consuming more wine than the French and Italians, who are seeing declines due to changing beverage preferences from their youth and tougher impaired driving laws.

And our average annual consumption per capita is about three gallons, or nearly 17 bottles. That’s 1.4 bottles per month (1.7 drinks per week) for every man, woman, and child in the United States, which pales in comparison to many of our other favorite beverages (bottled water, 44 gallons ; soft drinks, 37 gallons; beer, 26 gallons).

But we are not at the top of this category. Who are the main wine consumers per capita? The Portuguese (68 bottles; 6.7 drinks per week), the French (61 bottles; 6.0 drinks per week) and the Italians (60 bottles; 5.9 drinks) consume significantly more than the Americans, who rank at 18e in comparison. Of course, the population explains the apparent dichotomy in consumption statistics; the US population of 330 million dominates Portugal (10 million), France (67 million) and Italy (60 million).

How do these statistics compare to your view of the wine industry? And for your personal consumption? Don’t lose sight of the underlying basis of all the statistics above – they measure the continued popularity of wine drinking without addressing the myriad of social and health issues.

As someone much more insightful than me once said, “99% of all statistics only tell 49% of the story.”

Nick Antonaccio has been a resident of Pleasantville for 45 years. For more than 25 years, he has hosted wine tastings and conferences. Nick is a Fellow and Program Director of the Wine Media Guild of Wine Journalists. It also offers personalized wine tastings and wine tour services. Nick’s credo: continuous experimentation leads to instinctive behavior. You can reach him at [email protected] or on Twitter @sharingwine.

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Shirley M. Pinder