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SFWA Completes California Producer Study
December 30, 2010


St. Helena, CA -

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release

CONTACT:
Ken Young
sweetandfortified@att.net
916-258-7117

SFWA COMPLETES CALIFORNIA SWEET AND FORTIFIED WINE PRODUCER STUDY

The Sweet and Fortified Wine Association (SFWA) recently completed the first study of California sweet and fortified producers since prohibition. The study found that while not a major portion of most product lines, almost 10% of California’s bonded wineries produced a sweet and/or fortified wine.

According to information developed through personal contact and online sources, 295 California wineries produce a sweet and/or fortified wine. Of this total, 138 make fortified wines only, 76 make a sweet wine only, and 79 produce both sweet and fortified wines. The study also revealed that most California sweet and fortified vintners produce between 300 and 1,500 cases annually.

“The purpose of the study was to determine the number of sweet and fortified wine producers in California and range of their products,” said SFWA Executive Director Ken Young. “Even with the ever-changing dynamics of the California wine industry, we were able to get a reasonable overview of the sweet and fortified segment of the business”, Young said.

The SFWA study revealed that 85% of California’s fortified wines were red “port” style wines. White “ports” accounted for 9% of the States total fortified wines while Angelica and Sherry were 3% each of the total.

Portuguese variety blends and single Portuguese variety grapes accounted for over one-quarter (28%) of the total red fortified wines produced in California. The other major red “port” style wine is made from Zinfandel (24%). Syrah and Petite Sirah comprise an additional 23% of California’s red ports.

The study was unable to determine specific port styles such as “Ruby” and “Tawny” due primarily to inconsistent application of terms and aging procedures by producers. “SFWA is working on voluntary standards for these terms so follow-up studies may determine specific producer styles”, according to Young.

Chardonnay was the variety most favored (38%) by California “white port” producers. Muscat varieties accounted for 27% of the states white ports while Viognier was preferred by 19% of white port producers.

The SFWA volunteer guidelines for sweet and semi-sweet were applied to classifying California sweet wines. According to the guidelines, California produces 74 sweet wines, 7 semi-sweet wines, 62 “late harvest” sweet wines, and 7 “ice wines”. The majority of California sweet wines come from Muscat varieties including Orange Muscat and Muscat Canelli.

It was somewhat surprising that relative California newcomer Viognier was the most popular late harvest variety followed closely by Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

In addition, California vintners produced 44 sweet red wines. The vast majority of these wines were “late harvest” Zinfandel.

The SFWA also developed information on bottle format for both sweet and fortified wines. Almost half (49%) of California’s fortified wine producer use the 750 ml. format while 36% favor the 350 ml. format. The 500 ml. format accounts for the remaining 15%. Most sweet and semi-sweet producers use the 750 ml. format (71%) while 59% of late harvest vintners prefer 350 ml bottles to the 750 ml. format (36%).

“The next phase of SFWA’s research will be to determine the extent of sweet and fortified wine production on a national basis”, Young explained. “We are in the process of collecting production information from every state and expect to have the study completed later this year. Our longer range research goal is to determine specific sweet and fortified wine consumer information which will assist members in expanding the consumer market for their wines.”

The Sweet and Fortified Wine Association (SFWA) is a non-profit organization of vintners, growers, producers, distributors, retailers and consumers whose Mission is the education and creation of awareness within the wine drinking public. The association provides a support system and promotion vehicle for producers of American made sweet and fortified wines.

Vintners, growers, suppliers and consumers can get membership and organizational information by visiting the SFWA website at sweetandfortifiedwine.org, by e-mail at sweetandfortifie@att.net or by calling the association at (916) 258-7115.


END



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