The percentage of California wineries reporting a volume drop in wine sales in the fourth-quarter of the year tripled this holiday shopping season compared to 2000 as vintners experienced the "worst year in a decade"--the second consecutive year they have declared such a result, according to the latest issue of Rich Cartiere's Wine Market Report.

The California-based wine trade newsletter also found, as part of its Third Annual Wine and The Economy Expectations Survey, that respondents believe a significant rebound in wine sales is not expected by the majority of vintners until 2004.

"It's been a soft and sluggish fourth quarter--not an exciting wine sales times," one key distributor is quoted as saying in the latest issue of the newsletter.

The results were released as the latest wine sales results from A.C. Nielsen's WineScan showed declines in sales volume of virtually every major category for the latest 13-week reporting period, the first time there has been such a broad swath of drops in wine volumes since the 1991-93 recession, according to Wine Market Report.

The survey also showed that the percentage of wineries expecting double-digit volume increases declined from 63% of respondents in 2000 to just 10% in 2002.

"Y2K marked the end of the longest boom in the modern-day history of the California wine industry, and while the industry clearly is not collapsing, the new hyper-competitive environment is wreaking major changes," said Rich Cartiere, editor and publisher of Wine Market Report.

The published results of the Wine and The Economy Expectations Survey, are available at http://www.winemarketreport.com or by emailing editor@winemarketreport.com