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Are More Countries Importing American Wine?

Erin O'Reilly - Certified Specialist of Wine

The US is a thirsty country. As a population, the Land of Liberty is a net consumer of wine, meaning that Americans drink more wine than they produce. Given this fact, American wine exports remain a tiny fraction of the total US wine industry. Here’s a quick overview of why.

rows of wine bottles

How Much Wine Are We Talking About?

According to the annual Salinas Valley Bank Report that produces an exhaustive state-of-the-industry report each year, in 2020 and 2021 total US wine exports held steady at a scant 3% of sales. By contrast, tasting rooms account for 29% of sales. Export markets represent about $1.29 billion in USD, which looks impressive at first blush, but when compared to the total US wine industry valued at over $40 billion USD remains a tiny fraction.

This small percentage reflects strong American wine consumption. American wine producers have little reason to seek out markets abroad if they know that they can sell their wines at home. In contrast, Chileans, for example, only consume 30% of their homegrown wine, meaning that export markets play a critical role for their industry.

The Politics of Wine

Political relations, trade wars, and even currency values can influence how wine moves through the global marketplace. Some countries set up free trade agreements to allow for more competitive wine pricing, while others favor protectionist policies to promote their domestic wine industry.

One good example of how this plays out is the EU market.

Mid-priced American wines are not typically exported to the EU. After shipping expenses and tariffs, the wines are more expensive than similar style and quality wines in European markets. American fine wines will always have a place on the export market in the EU for collectors, specialty wine shops, and fine dining establishments, but not the everyday bottle.

US Top 5 Export Countries

  • Canada
  • Germany
  • United Kingdom
  • Ireland
  • Japan

US and Canadian flag side by side

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the top destination for US wines is its northernly neighbor, Canada. Canada, like the US, is a net importer of wine. The Wine Institute reports that wine sales value to Canada topped $424 million USD in 2020.

Germany takes second place, and is a sizeable importer of international wines claiming Europe’s largest wine drinking market.

The biggest wine exporters are well-known brands, including E & J Gallo, Constellation Brands, Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates, Delicato Family Vineyards, and Treasury Wine Estates. These represent large producers with extensive portfolios that have the supply chain and resources for to compete on the global market bring great American wine to international markets.

Future of US Wine Exports

The Wine Institute has launched a Golden State of Mind campaign with a goal to increase US wine exports to $2.5 billion USD by 2030, but as long as Americans love to uncork wine, American wine producers will continue to focus on domestic sales and this will keep American wine importers – not exporters – busy.

While we can't make any promises about the future of American wine exports, we can promise that we will continue to import only the finest wines from throughout the US and across the world! Browse our selection in our Wine Store or experience a new country's creations every few months by joining the International Wine Club!

Erin O'Reilly Author Bio Image Author Bio: Erin O’Reilly, Certified Specialist of Wine, is a wine writer and educator. She pens her work from Monterey wine country where she raises a glass to the growers and producers crafting wines that transcend time.