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"Moscato madness" drives export boom to US

"Moscato madness" drives export boom to US

A boom in carbonated wine sales - spearheaded by Moscato - has underpinned a 10% leap in Australian wine exports in 2016-17.

According to the Wine Australia Export Report June 2017, Australian wine export value increased by $201 million (10%) in 2016–17 to $2.31 billion, underpinned by strong export growth to China and the United States. 

Exports of carbonated wine more than doubled to $30 million, with 35% of it heading to the United States. The figures, mainly driven by Moscato, increased 10-fold to $11 million in value.

In 2016–17, overall exports to the US increased by 3% to $464 million – the highest value since 2011–12.

Millenials drive "Moscato madness"

Coined as a phrase by one of the biggest wine companies in the US - E. & J. Gallo Winery - "Moscato madness" has been gripping the US market since early this decade.

According to IRI data, in 2010, total Moscato sales in the US were $105.5 million on 1.6 million cases sold, a massive leap from 2008, when sales were $32 million on 492,105 cases sold. (Moscato sales have also been surging in Australia since 2008, increasing at a rate of about 20% a year.)

In 2015, more 20 million people were buying Moscato in the US over a three-month period. 

The appeal has been put down to the fruity grape being a gateway into wine for first-time drinkers. 

Hip-hop culture also lent Moscato street cred when Lil’ Kim sang “Still over in Brazil/Sipping Moscato,” while Kendrick Lamar rapped “We need a bottle of Moscatooo/Puts me in the moment for your lovin.”

”Moscato is on fire,” Francesca Schuler, chief marketing officer for Treasury Wine Estates told Market Watch in 2011. “We’re making as much as we can.”

Moscato is particularly popular with Millenials, with 50% of Moscato drinkers are under 45 years of age.

Innocent Bystander Moscato the world's most searched

A recent Wine Searcher article noted the site was "rather shocked to see that the year-to-date figure of 273,261 was far in advance of that for Prosecco, which has only reached 128,615 keyword searches in the same period", making it the world's most searched sparkling wine. 

While the top 9 most searched Moscatos were from Italy, Innocent Bystander Moscato came in at No.10. It is the top-ranked pink Moscato in the world in terms of searches.

Vigneron Phil Sexton sold the Innocent Bystander brand to Brown Brothers last year on the back of its Moscato success.

"Phil wants to concentrate his full efforts on Giant Steps," Gavin Speight of Old Bridge Cellars, his US importer, told Wine Spectator.

"While he and [winemaker] Steve Flamsteed have always enjoyed the freedom of winemaking and the ability to experiment that revenue from Innocent Bystander allowed them, with Pink Moscato the brand has grown so quickly that it was consuming a lot more of their time and resources than they envisioned."

"To be honest, we have struggled to keep up," Sexton wrote in an announcement to employees. "Innocent Bystander is a fabulous brand and it has been a terrific experience, and a lot of fun, but now it's time to pass it on to someone whom we have a lot of respect for and who will take it from here to its full potential."