Sales of Sherry in the US, one of the fortified wine's most important markets, rose by 50% in volume for the first quarter of 2009, according to the US arm of Spain's Sherry Council.

Sherry sales hit 480,000 litres for the first three months of 2009, compared to 320,000 litres for the same period in 2008, the Sherry Council of America said yesterday (8 July).

"The shipment data shows that old favourites, like cream Sherry, are holding strong in the US market, but other drier styles are beginning to break through," said the council. "Amontillado, for example, saw a drastic increase in exports at the beginning of this year."

Sherry's attractive price point in a weakened economy, coupled with greater consumer awareness, have driven sales, the council said.

One of the major campaigns launched in the past year is the 'Secret Sherry Society'. "The 'not-so-secret' Society initiates members through online social networking tools, fun tasting events for the culturally curious wine drinker, direct outreach to retailers and restaurateurs, and high visibility promotions at food and wine festivals around the country," said Marc Destito, director of the Sherry Council of America.

Value sales figures for the firsy quarter were not given.