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California Wine Sales Set New Record — But Which Varietal Is Tops?

The Most Popular California Wines Sold
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* California wine sales in the U.S. hit over $34 billion in 2016
* State shipped 238 million cases to the U.S.
* One varietal accounts for 20% of all cases sold

It’s a good time to be from California, at least if you’re in the winemaking industry. A new report from the Wine Institute, revealed that California wine shipments to the U.S. reached an estimated retail value of $34.1 billion in 2016, up 4.6% from the year before. The state also shipped 238 million cases of wine to the U.S. in 2016, up 2% from the previous year. Both numbers represent record highs, proving California wine is more popular than every before.

In total, California wine sales to all markets, including shipments to the U.S. and exports, also set a record, with 285 million cases shipped in 2016. The U.S. has been the world’s largest wine market since 2010.

Experts say the demand for wine is increasing, with more places across the country selling wine, including non-traditional locations like bookstores, salons, movie theaters and even car wash and car repair shops. The number of restaurants and bars serving wine has also increased. Another reason for the increase: wine is now being sold in “alternative” forms of packaging, including cans, boxes and even wines on tap.

As for the most popular California wine being sold? Unsurprisingly, Chardonnay remains the largest varietal of all wine types accounting for 20% share of the cases, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon at 15%. Red Blends including Sweet Reds (12%), Pinot Grigio/Gris (9%), Merlot (7%), Pinot Noir (6%), White Zinfandel/Blush (6%), Moscato/Muscat (5%) and Sauvignon Blanc (5%) round out the list.

While Rose is a popular wine to drink in the Golden State, California is typically not known for its Rose production, and so that varietal accounts for only a 1% share of total sales.