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Chardonnay is still the leader in wine sales in the United States, but American consumers are increasingly showing a preference for reds. During the past decade, volume share of red wines has grown 118 percent, according to the Wine Institute, based in San Francisco. Reds held 17 percent of the market in 1991,25 percent in 1995, and last year jumped to 37 percent market share.
California wineries weathered last year's economic slowdown and the Sept. 11 attacks, which were especially hurtful to wineries' important travel and tourism markets, to achieve 1 percent volume growth to 450 million gallons, reports the institute. Shipments from California wineries have grown steadily during the past five years, from 411 million gallons in 1997. The Wine Institute estimates the retail value of California wines sold in the United States to be $13.4 billion in 2001 compared with 13 billion in 2000.
During the same 10 years, white wines dropped from 49 percent market share to 40 percent, an 18 percent drop. Blush wines held their own for the first half of the decade, with 34 percent market share, but …