E&J Gallo Winery was the fastest-growing wine producer in the UK last year, according to industry figures.

The Californian wine giant boasted today (6 February) that its total portfolio in the UK grew by 24% in 2006, hitting sales of over 5.5m nine-litre cases.

Citing figures from AC Nielsen, Gallo noted that, with growth of 24% last year, its Gallo Family Vineyards Sierra Valley White Grenache remains the UK's most popular rosé wine.

McWilliam's Wines, Gallo's Australian brand, recorded growth of 76% last year. Chilean brand Viña Chilcaya, which was launched in the UK last March, has recorded GBP2.2m (US$4.3m) worth of sales since its debut, Gallo said.

To develop its UK off-trade business further in 2007, Gallo has appointed Mark Tinsley as UK off-trade director, from his former position of business unit manager - grocery.

Separately, Gallo has named Roger Boucher as European on-trade development director. After 15 years with the company, Boucher moves to the position following Nick Elkin's promotion to grocery and retail development controller for the off-trade in Europe.

"The on-trade market still does not reflect customer tastes as shown by off-trade sales. We expect further growth for New World Wines, and California in particular, this year," Boucher said.

"With our experience working with all sectors of the on-trade and a diverse, high-quality portfolio, we are well-positioned to capitalise on these opportunities."