US wine consumption rose 3.4% in 2006, continuing the sector's climb for the 13th consecutive year, according to research out this week.

The 2007 edition of the Adams Wine Handbook, published by Adams Beverage Group, has reported that overall wine consumption rose to 283.1 million 9-litre cases in 2006. Domestic wine sales rose 2.6% to 209.4m cases, and imported wines rose 5.7% to 73.6m cases.

"Wine sales have sustained this long-term growth thanks to the industry's success in appealing to a wide range of consumers," said Charles Forman, vice president and group publisher, Adams Beverage Group. Sales were so strong that if the wine industry's expansion continues at this pace, the United States will become the largest wine market in the world by the end of the decade.

The growth among imports shows little sign of slowing, with wine imported from Italy, Australia and France up 6.7%, 6.8% and 21.9%, respectively, in 2006. Italy still holds court in the imported wine segment, with a 29.3% share in 2006. Italy boasts the leading on-premise brand, Cavit, which grew 13.2% to reach the 3m case mark in 2006.

French wines continued their resurgence in 2006, marking the second consecutive year of gains. The recent upswing occurred despite leading French brand, Georges Duboeuf, declining 7.4% to 750,000 cases.

The largest brands in the foreign segment are Yellow Tail at 8.1m cases (+7.3%); Cavit at 3m cases (+13.2%); and Concha y Toro at 2.7m cases (-2.6%).

The largest brand in the domestic segment and the overall industry is Franzia Winetaps, a brand whose volume declined 3.2% to end the year at 22.8m cases. Number two domestic, Carlo Rossi, jumped 2.6% to 12.7mcases. Twin Valley, a brand that lost 5.9% in 2006 to 8.9m cases, rounds out the top three domestics.

Meanwhile, Champagne and sparkling wines continued to grow in 2006, gaining 3.8% to end the year at 13.4m cases, marking the fifth consecutive year of gains for the category, with imports increasing at a faster rate than domestics, mirroring the trend in the table wine market.

Dessert and fortified wines continued to decline last year, although the sake and imported Port and Sherry segments each continued on an upward climb. Vermouth declined in 2006, falling 1.6% to end the year at 1.8m cases. The category continues to remain virtually stagnant over the past 10 years. Volume in the category has been sustained in recent years due to the popularity of the martini.