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Large Wineries Dominate Production - 90% Produced by Top 3
Copyright 2004 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved. Originally printed June 7, 2004. For more information go to

For those of us who admire the work of small-farm wineries and artisanal producers and enjoy nothing more than discovering a tiny one-person winery housed in a barn or garage and producing a few barrels of wine every year, here's a cold splash of reality: These hand-made wines that we love represent only a drop in the world's ocean of wine.

Virtually all the wine made in the world every year comes from major, industrial producers. Considering large-scale wineries in the United States alone, an extensive recent study by the trade publication Wine Business Monthly is instructive. It was published earlier this year, but I just ran across it recently and thought it was worth sharing with you today. (A link to the full article online appears below.)

Wine Business Monthly compiled a list of the 30 largest U.S. wine producers, published them in order, and featured interviews with principals of each, including their opinions about the state and future of the wine industry.

The top three producers alone sold well over two-thirds of all the wine sold in the U.S. the previous year: Giant E&J Gallo led all the rest with 75 million 12-bottle cases, with nearly-as-gigantic conglomerate Constellation Brands catching up with 66 million cases, and San Francisco's The Wine Group following with a mere 25 million cases.

Wine Business Monthly reports that the top 30 producers make fully 90 percent of all the wine sold in the U.S. In fact, by my calculations, the magazine's totals for these producers alone add up to 240 million cases a year, which is actually a bit more than the U.S. Treasury Department's report of 237 million cases produced in the U.S. in 2001. This discrepancy is apparently explained by the presence of some imported brands within the U.S. producers' portfolios, like Gallo's big-selling Ecco Domani brand (from Italy), Brown-Forman's Bolla (Italy) and Kendall-Jackson's Calina from Chile.

If you're at all interested in wine industry facts and figures, I think you'll enjoy browsing the full Wine Business Monthly report on the "Top 30".

For your information, here's the magazine's listing of top producers, in order by cases sold during 2003:

1. E&J Gallo (75 million)
2. Constellation Brands (66 million)
3. The Wine Group (25 million)
4. Beringer Blass Wine Estates (11 million)
5. Bronco Wine Company (10 million)
6. Robert Mondavi Winery (9.7 million)
7. Trinchero Family Estates (8.3 million)
8. Brown-Forman (6 million)
9. Kendall-Jackson (5 million)
10. Diageo Chateau & Estates (3.25 million)
11. Stimson Lane (3.2 million)
12. Allied Domecq Wines USA (2.5 million)
13. Heck Estates (2.1 million)
14. Delicato Vineyards (1.5 million)
15. Golden State Vintners (1.3 million)
16. Phillips-Hogue (1.2 million)
17. C. Mondavi & Sons (1 million)
18. Peak Wines International (700K)
19. Ironstone Vineyards (700K)
20. J. Lohr Winery (700K)
21. Chalone Wine Group (670K)
22. Don Sebastiani & Sons (640K)
23. Bogle Vineyards (600K)
24. Rodney Strong (500K)
25. Barefoot Cellars (500K)
26. San Antonio Winery (500K)
27. Hess Collection (450K)
28. Round Hill (350K)
29. Domaine Chandon (320K)
30. Wente Vineyards (300K)


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