Allegrini 2018

More than duties and Brexit: the big names in the sector are betting on a 2019 of growth

Towards Italy and historic markets. So Antinori, Santa Margherita, Ruffino, Pasqua, Mastroberardino, Villa Sandi, Cecchi, Lungarotti, Masi and Vespa
The barrel cellar of the Antinori winery in Bargini, Chianti Classico

The first months of 2019 show positive trends for the Italian wine market. So much that we hope that this year will also be a year of growth for the wineries of the Belpaese, both in Italy and in the world, despite the many unknowns that hover over the world, from the war of duties to the Brexit, to mention the most obvious. According to Federvini’s data, in Italy the first four months of the year saw an increase in sales, in value, of 5.5%, while abroad, in an overall growth scenario, in the first three months, according to Nomisma Wine Monitor, there are several trends to report, such as the revival of still wines, and the first signs of slowdown of sparkling wines, mainly due to the performance of Asti, highlights the observatory led by Denis Pantini. The Italian still wines, especially red, in the first 3 months of 2019, grow in an explosive way in the UK (+24.3%), but also in the U.S. (+3.5%), Germany (+0.8%), Japan (+6.6%), Switzerland (4.4%) and Russia (+14.3%), with China is the only market in sharp decline (-17.1%). The performance of sparkling wines was more varied, now worth a quarter of Italian exports, with very strong growth in the USA (+19%), Canada (+16.8%) and Switzerland (+12%.6%), up in Australia (+2.9%), but down sharply in Germany (-11.8%), the UK (-7.1%), France (-8.3%), Japan (-7.6%), Russia (-3.9%) and China (-14.3%). This is a clearly complex picture, which, however, encourages the entrepreneurs and managers of some of the most important Italian wineries, interviewed by WineNews, which expect to close the year positively thanks to the signals coming from the Italian wine industry, but also to exports, especially in the historic Italian wine industries, with North America at the top, while in Asia, and China, in particular, the vision is less clear.
“Sales are going well - comments Albiera Antinori, head of Marchesi Antinori, one of the most prestigious realities of Italian wine - there is enthusiasm. The most vital country is Italy, and we are satisfied with this, but also the other big players like the United States are doing well. The big question is still China, which is moving slowly. Fortunately, we are well distributed in many countries, so if things get complicated on the one hand we can improve on the other. Of course, there is still the duty-risk in many parts of the world, but there is a good chance of closing the 2019 year on the increase”.
“The first months of the year confirm that we are still on an upward trend - confirms Ettore Nicoletto, CEO of the Santa Margherita Group, one of the main players in Italy - although slower than in the past, but still positive. The markets that pull are always those, the most reactive are those of North America, then the United States and Canada, there is a good vivacity in Asia, which comforts us a lot, while Europe is a stagnant market overall. Italy is giving some satisfaction, but it is growing at a very low rate, and this means that we will have to do something to boost wine consumption”.
“If there are no surprises on duties, especially in the U.S., which is possible - adds Sandro Sartor, CEO of Ruffino, the historical company of Chianti and member of the giant Constellation Brands - it will be a year of growth in the US and also in the European market, in particular in Northern Europe, where there were excellent signs of growth”.
“The first four months of the year tell us that there is a good rate of growth - confirms Umberto Pasqua, at the head of the famous group from Veneto - and we work every day to make this trend continue until the end of the year. We are investing a lot in the markets. In China there is still a lot of space, maybe we are only at the beginning, so with large commercial actions, we can make important numbers. And also in America and the USA, there are still spaces to be conquered: we need the right products, some innovative products, and an important presence”.
“The market situation - points out Piero Mastroberardino, head of one of Campania’s most important wineries - is like a leopard spot. The Italian market shows good signs because it is a consolidated market that shows very little but constant growth, with signs that make us understand that the market is alive. The United States and Canada are doing well, while Scandinavia is doing very well in Europe, and Germany, a market in which the pressure is very strong, is showing encouraging signals. Then there are countries that have fluctuations for bureaucratic reasons, such as Russia, or such as Japan, which has not yet returned to its former glory. However, we look to the future with confidence, the Italian wine system is working well, our companies are innovative and at the same time consistent with their roots, on the whole, I am moderately confident because we have to face many very challenging challenges”.
“We are confident to close a positive year. In the first four months we are up 10% on 2018, thanks to exports to the United States and Canada, which did well, and more and more thanks to the East, Australia, Japan, and even China, where the numbers are still not great, but we are increasing slowly” says Giancarlo Moretti Polegato, at the head of the Prosecco Villa Sandi brand.
“We hope it’s a year of growth, of course. Certainly, there are uncertainties on important markets - stresses Cesare Cecchi, head of the historic family business - obviously starting with Brexit in the UK, which is a strategic market. Italian wine is performing well. Traditional markets will still do the trick, because the new ones, even if they show important percentage increases, have a partial weight on the global turnover”.
Chiara Lungarotti’s thought, at the helm of the family winery, is also in line with the Umbrian references to wine. “2019 will be a year of great challenge, both on the Italian market, which after the first few months is recovering well, but especially in those markets where uncertainties weigh especially political, such as the United Kingdom and the U.S. But the sentiment is positive, in general”.
The optimism of Sandro Boscaini, at the head of Masi, one of the reference wineries of Amarone Della Valpolicella and not only, is more moderate. “I do not expect any decline, but I do not see any great growth potential either. And I say that at a certain point we must also reflect, settle our markets, and set up the great names of Italian wine in the best possible way. Of course, competition is getting stronger and stronger, both between producers from the European Union and the New World, who are seeing their production and potential growth. It will be a year in which it will be important above all to understand where the markets are going, in order to be able to react and start a new desirable era of growth and success”.
Bruno Vespa, in his double role as producer, with the Apulian winery Vespa Vignaioli, and as an attentive observer of international dynamics, in his role as a journalist, also expressed a positive opinion: “I believe that 2019 can still be a year of growth for Italian wine, because we have good products. And we hope to grow not only in traditional markets, such as the USA, Germany and Great Britain, hoping that Brexit will not eventually materialize, but also in new markets, and I'm thinking especially of China, where we can grow so much”.

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