German wine exports leapt 10% in volume terms in 2006 despite a fall in sales in the UK, the largest market for German wines.

Shipments of wine from Germany reached 290m hectolitres last year, according to figures from the German Wine Institute (DWI). In value terms, exports were up 18% to EUR561m (US$748m).

The robust export performance came despite an 8% fall in shipments to the UK. The DWI said yesterday (15 March) that the fall came because of a shift away from lower quality, more "easy drinking" wines.

The DWI pointed to a slight rise in the value of exports to the UK, which inched up by 1.2% to EUR128m.

In the US, export sales leapt by 29% to EUR100m, thanks to growing demand for Riesling, the DWI said. "Everybody in the whole world is talking about Riesling," a DWI spokesman said.

Sales to Holland and Norway, the third and fourth-largest markets for German wines, were also up, the DWI said.