The wine retail industry is dynamic and ever-expanding, which is why knowing the latest consumer trends and preferences is crucial for industry professionals working in the US market.
In this interview, Nicola Angiuli, long-time importer of Italian wines on the American market and founder of with Alessandro Francoli, of Francoli USA, talks about current trends and preferences of the US wine market.
According to the latest data released, 2023 also sees Italian wine growing on foreign markets, especially in the United States. Can you confirm this positive trend?
In the first half of 2023 there was a 0.7% growth in Italian sparkling wines. The American wine market is worth around 80 million Euros and is expected to reach 85 million in 2027. Of these 80 million, Italian wines obtained around 1 million in the first half of the year and are expected to occupy another 1.3 million in the second half of the year. I am sure that the segment occupied by Italian products will grow further between now and 2027 thanks also to the fact that our cuisine is highly appreciated by Americans and the fact that American tourists increasingly prefer Italy as a destination for their holidays.
Which wine, among those you represent in 2023, has attracted the greatest interest from US retailers?
In general, Tuscan, Piedmontese and Venetian wines dominate the market at a national level, followed by Trentino Alto-Adige, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Abruzzo, Umbria, Puglia and Sicily. Of the wines we represent, however, Apulian wines are those that are giving the most satisfaction thanks to the curiosity shown by consumers to try new wines. We are also noticing an interest from several distributors for high quality organic and Lambrusco wines which were specifically requested from us. Since Lambrusco is a new addition to our portfolio we do not yet have enough data to include it in our sales ranking, but I am sure it will give good results in 2024. Certainly, I see great interest from not only distributors, but also restaurateurs .
In your business you always dedicate yourself with passion to the dissemination of wines from Southern Italy, in particular from Puglia. What trends do you foresee on the topic in 2024?
Southern wines are increasingly in demand thanks also to tourism. More and more American stars and influencers go on holiday to Southern Italy, contributing to its fame and making it fashionable. Think of Madonna who decided to celebrate her 60th birthday in Lecce, Meryl Streep who bought a villa in Salento or Justin Timberlake who got married in an old farmhouse in Borgo Egnazia. The presence of the stars meant that Puglia became trendy in the United States as a new destination for American tourists who didn’t want to be mainstream by going to Tuscany. The stars, like all tourists, once they return to America decide to visit Italian cultures and specifically Puglia. I say Pugliesi, specifically, because I have noticed a boom in typical Pugliese restaurants in recent years. This means that Americans are increasingly interested in wines not only from Puglia, but more generally from the South such as the wines of Etna, Montepulciano and Pecorino.
In your experience, what is still missing for wines from Southern Italy to emerge on foreign markets, especially the US one, on a par with more renowned wine regions?
There’s no time. Tuscan and Venetian wines have been known in America for decades, thanks also to the tourism boom of the 1970s, while wines from the South are starting to be known in recent years. In 2023, there was a record increase in tourism in Italy, specifically in Southern Italy. A small region like Molise had a 13% increase in tourism while Puglia had an increase of 10%. This shift of the tourist axis is to the south. In my own small way I can say that this summer I was in Brindisi visiting my family and I have never heard so much English spoken on the seafront as this year.
Goals for 2024?
My predictions for 2024 are optimistic. This year we launched a line of liqueurs which is doing very well, we are launching biodynamic wines and a very high quality Lambrusco which promise great things (the latter at the request of distributors). We have also just started working with a winery in Piedmont. Surely, things are promising but I don’t stop here, I’m always looking for new niche wines to introduce to the American public.
As regards the market in general, I predict that thanks to the success of Prosecco, 2024 will be the year of Lambrusco and Franciacorta sparkling wines, which I consider together with the French and Trentino sparkling wines the best sparkling wines in the world.