Italy wants to topple US in wine sales

An appropriate follow on… or top up as we might appropriately say from the story today on Bulgari wine.. perhaps the Bulgari family’s wine will be a must have at industry and trade events in Italy… in order to boost the product for export, let’s face it wine can be sexy and yes, it’s very seasonal as well, so a perfect accompaniment to fashion!

Reuters reports that Italy’s top winemakers are joining forces with the country’s luxury goods elite as the world’s second-biggest wine producer tries to give itself an edge in the battle for U.S. and emerging market customers amid falling consumption at home.

Whilst Italian vineyards shared in the spoils of $US16 billion of wine sales last year, it was a flat year for the country.

Italy is already the world’s top wine exporter by volume and number two only to France by value. It saw wine exports climb 13 percent to 4.4 billion euros in 2011, when 2.4 billion liters, or about 55 percent of total sales volume, was sold abroad.

But as competition from long-term rival France and relative newcomers Australia, South America and South Africa heats up on the international stage, top Italian producers are seeking to stand out by pairing with fashion and design brands.

“Italian wines have become extraordinarily excellent,” Santo Versace, brother of fashion designer Donatella Versace and chairman of Altagamma told Reuters at the pre-opening event for Vinitaly, a major wine trade fair which runs in northern Italy from March 25 to March 28.

“It is clear that fashion is more eye-catching, better known around the world. Wherever we go, we bring along our Italian wines and make them known,” Versace said.

With sales volumes abroad exceeding domestic consumption since 2010, Italy’s wine industry is set to become increasingly focused on foreign markets like the United States, Russia and China, following the tracks of many other Italian manufacturing sectors, ranging from fashion to metals production.

And it’s no surprise that Asia could become the biggest export market for Italian wine.

The U.S. market, the biggest wine market in the world, has largely recovered from the 2008-2009 economic crisis and sales of Italian wine rose 16 percent there in 2011, winemakers said.

“Through the entire crisis, the volume of wine (sales) continued to increase, but the price point shifted. Some of the higher-end wines were hurt, some of the lower-end wines were helped,” Thomas Matthews, executive editor of Wine Spectator magazine, told Reuters.

Italy has the biggest slice of the U.S. wine market with an approximate 30-percent share, according to industry data. About a third of Italian wine exports are sold in the United States.

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