California wine sales dropped in '09

California remains No. 1 in domestic wine production, but the state's wine industry experienced a drop in shipments in 2009, the first such loss in 16 years.

Consumption of wine nationally rose 2.1% last year, according to new statistics just released. However, industry analyst Jon Fredrikson says, the public is buying less expensive imported bulk wine rather tha the pricier California wines.

Speaking at the annual Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in Sacramento, Frederikson said, "Usually, we're raving about how great the year was, but this was probably the worst year you ever had."

The state's seven largest producers last year had overall sales growth of nearly 7 million cases. Overall, however, the state's wine industry shipments dropped nearly 4%, nearly 4 million cases, for the first 11 months of last year.

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