Exports of US wine soared by 22% last year to reach a record US$1.39bn, the California-based Wine Institute has said.

The lift puts the US on-track to meet the Wine Insitute's target of $2bn in export sales by 2020, the trade body said today (16 February). Volume sales in 2011 rose slower than value sales, up by almost 6% on 2010 at 50.6m nine-litre cases.

The difference between value and volume is partly attributable to exchange rate swings, but the gap also suggests stronger demand for higher-priced wines from the US. California made up by 90% of the exports by value.

In 2011, the European Union and Canada continued to dominate as export destinations, making up $478m and $379m in sales respectively. However, Asia also grew strongly. Exports to Hong Kong and Japan rose by 39% to $163m and $105m respectively, while direct exports to China increased by 42% to $62m and sales to Vietnam jumped by 266%.

"We have significantly increased our focus on and investment in the China market over the past year in this top priority market," said the Wine Institute’s international marketing director, Linsey Gallagher.