The World Still Loves Our Wine

Wine sales may be down here in the Bay Area but that doesn't mean the rest of the world has given up on wine country.

While Americans are stocking up on cheap wine, people worldwide are still buying U.S. wine in a tight economy, although exports were down in 2009 from 2008's record-setting year.

U.S. wine exports dropped nearly 15 percent last year. The largest decrease -- 21 percent -- was in shipments to the European Union, which is the biggest importer of U.S. wines.

According to figures released Friday by the Wine Institute, increased shipments to Hong Kong and China helped offset the decline. The U.S. also overtook Chile as the largest bulk wine exporter to Japan, where U.S. imports were up 42 percent.

The total value of exported wine was nearly $912 million. That's down from 2008 when the value of exports topped $1 billion for the first time.

More than 110 million gallons of wine was exported from the U.S. in 2009. Ninety percent of it came from California.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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