How A Spanish Wine Region Captivated American Buyers

Editor’s Note: Vintner Magazine covers the United States wine industry but occasionally offers international insights from wineries and wine-oriented businesses in other parts of the world to give our readers a global perspective.

The United States continues to be the leading global export market for Albariño wines of the Spanish Rías Baixas region, according to annual sales data released by that region’s official governing body. 

The crisp wines have citrus and stone fruit tasting notes and floral aromas and are popular with sommeliers and retail wine buyers.And the data shows they continue to grow in popularity with American consumers. 

The Consejo Regulador of D.O. Rías Baixa said exports to the United States grew 13% by volume to reach 2.6 million liters, and 16.8% in value to $17.3 million in annual total sales from the reporting period beginning August 31, 2020 and ending September 1, 2021.

The United States represents 27.5% of total share by volume for that region despite United State tariffs and supply chain delays.

What analysts from the region had to say about these statistics boils down to two key findings.

Education is essential

For the past decade, D.O. Rías Baixas has consistently outperformed the Spanish wine category (as measured by volume and value growth), supported by a successful U.S. marketing and trade education campaign to position Rías Baixas as world-class white wines in the same league as France, New Zealand and other regions. As a result, consumers are willing to spend more for the ever-popular Albariño, a native grape variety which traces its origins to the Galician region on the Atlantic Coast of northwest Spain. 

Perception of quality perpetuates value

The US results reflect an overall positive global trend for D.O. Rías Baixas. There are 179 wineries in that region, and 107 export wine to over 70 countries worldwide. Many of the wineries are small, family-owned ventures and exports represent a dynamic contribution to economic impact throughout Galicia. 

From August 2020 to September 2021, worldwide exports of Rías Baixas grew 12% in volume to 12.4 million 750 mL bottles) and 14% in value to reach $59 million for the entire region.

Analysts said perceptions of quality as measured by increased value are also favorable as wineries reported an increase of 3% in the average price per liter as compared to the previous year of reporting.

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