Direct wine shipments in the US hit a record high last year, according to figures released yesterday (27 March).

A report compiled by Vinteractive indicates that shipments direct to consumers in the country leapt by 58% in 2006, to hit US$1bn. The increase is the result of a growing number of US states allowing direct wine sales, the market consultants said.

At the same time, however, tasting room and event sales slid by 18% year-on-year. Online sales from US wineries were up by 45% to $197m. Total US consumer direct wine sales reached $2.4bn for the year, accounting for around 10% of total annual wine sales, Vinteractive said.

A 2005 US Supreme Court decision opened many US states to direct wine sales, VinterActive noted, highlighting a growing acceptance of wine clubs and winery ecommerce. Airline restrictions on wine as a carry-on item were cited as reducing onsite sales in some regions.

The results come from a survey of around 230 wineries in 35 states.