"It proves that sparkling wines are no longer holiday or special-event wines; they're now everyday wines," says Charlie Massie, founder of Riondo USA, which reports that dollar sales were up by 50% and case sales by 52% compared to a year ago.
Massie's statement is supported by SIRI (symphonyIRI.com), a provider of retail and consumer sales data, which points out that imports now command a much higher market share for sparkling wines than for table wines.
"The driving force behind the growth was anything but Champagne," says Massie. "Italian prosecco is in the spotlight and will continue to grow." Riondo Prosecco (Gold Medal VinItaly 2011) and Riondo Pink, (Best Charmat Method Rosé of the Year - Luca Maroni), are top sellers in markets such as Dallas and Chicago, and sales are growing nationwide.
Why such a dramatic growth for sparkling imports? "It's because of quality and pricing," says Massie, whose prosecco and Pink sell for less than $15. "You also have to take into consideration that people like to enjoy more than one glass of a bubbly. Our prosecco has a lower alcohol level, so people feel comfortable having that second glass."
Riondo USA has also added to its portfolio Riondo Moscato d'Asti, pinot grigio, a new vintage prosecco brut (DOC) that's being compared to Champagne (under $20), and iSpritz, presently on the launch pad.