CHICAGO -- Americans love so-called lifestyle wines, those that are easy on the wallet and palate alike. With wacky labels and whimsical names like Yellow Tail and Smoking Loon, they're prominent on a new list of the top 25 wine labels from Information Resources Inc. here.
IRI looked at wines that sold at least 100,000 cases in U.S. supermarkets and drug stores in the year that ended March 20 and analyzed such data as their volume growth, merchandising effectiveness, profitability, distribution gains and sales velocity. The results were published in what it called its first annual Table Wine Trendsetters ranking.
Heading the list at No. 1 was Yellow Tail, an Australian that sprang on the scene a mere four years ago. Now owned by Constellation Brands, it's become one of the hottest wine brands in the United States.
Of the seven imports on the list, two others hailed from Australia. Despite inroads by such imports in the past several years, though, 15 of the 25 leading wine brands in the U.S. were from California.
The remaining top five behind Yellow Tail, all Californians, were Mirassou (owned by E.&J. Gallo Winery), Barefoot (Gallo), Sterling Vintners Collection (Diageo) and Smoking Loon (Don Sebastiani & Sons).
Most of the 25 biggest wine brands belong to the fast-growing premium priced segment of the market.
Many of the leaders are owned by big corporations, reflecting the consolidation of wine ownership and their strategy of putting out a number of labels that are priced and styled to meet the demands of a segmented audience.
Over time, IRI expects the list to reflect new product activity and the popularity of imports and premium-priced ($15 and up) wines, including private label brands.
IRI also identified other key growth trends driving today's wine market:
- All of the top 25 brands grew dollar sales at least by a double-digit rate. Most grew volume by a double-digit rate in the measured sales period.
- Nearly 85% of the top 25 were priced at $5.50 and above.
- An increased display presence in food and drug stores seemed to have contributed to the success of the top 25.