Linsey Gallagher, head of international marketing for the California Wine Institute has told Imbibe that there will be 'no CalExit' from the UK. The Institute closed its generic office here over the summer, but has announced ambitious plans to grow sales in the UK by 30% over the next five years.
Last year, Californian wine sales in the UK reached $284m, making it one of the Golden State's most lucrative export markets.
The Institute plans to increase the value of wines sold here to $400-500m by the end of this decade, and is in the process of appointing both a PR office and a Brand Ambassador, to be the 'face' of California wine in the UK.
'We did make a change in the UK, but we did not abandon the market,' said Gallagher. 'We really will continue to have a significant investment here. We have had positive trends here, but we need to accelerate them.'
While Gallagher described the image of California as a whole as a 'strong brand', she admitted that there was something of a 'doughnut' shape to the wine offering, with strong performances at entry level and at the top-end, but a relative weakness in the £10-30 arena. Addressing this will be key to attaining their goals in the UK market.
'There are so many exciting things happening in winegrowing regions all over the Golden State, with both new and established vintners,' said Gallagher. ‘The great diversity of wines that our winemakers craft makes California truly unique. We have positive trends here, but we need to accelerate them.'