By Patricia Maresch, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – While a caipirinha is more likely to spring to mind when thinking of a Brazilian drink, do not rule out a glass of Brazilian produced wine, especially a sparkling one. Wine importers around the world are discovering Brazilian wines and exports from Brazil are rising rapidly, with sales of sparkling wines achieving a 12 percent growth in 2010.
According to a survey by the Brazilian Wine Institute Ibravin (Instituto Brasileiro do Vinho), in 2010 12.5 million liters of sparkling wine was sold, compared to 11.1 million gallons placed in 2009.
“We have never sold so many sparkling wines,” says Ibravin chairman Julius Fante. Exports in 2010 have gone mainly to neighboring Paraguay and Russia, with England, the United States and Japan as runners up. Ireland, Hong Kong and China have recently opened up their markets for Brazilian wine as well.
Of all the Brazilian wine producers, the house of Miolo saw the biggest growth in 2010. The company reported a 17 percent increase in total exports, 20 percent growth in average price, in addition to opening new markets.
Miolo alone grossed US$1.2 million, exporting to 24 destinations across three continents. The international success of Brazilian wines can be attributed to the quality of the wines as well as new market strategies.
Brazil is a very geographically diverse country with several major vineyard areas. The principal wine-growing region is the state of Rio Grande do Sul. The Serra Gaucha has more than 90,000 acres planted to vine, where winegrowers produce crops twice a year.
The Portuguese Jesuit priests established vineyards in Rio Grande do Sul in the Seventeenth century, but it took the knowledge of wine-making from Italian immigrants in the late Nineteenth century to really develop a Brazilian wine.
Their influence on Brazilian Spumante and Prosecco wines continues today. Brazilian sparkling wines receive international acclaim for being fruity, sophisticated and with a perfume that indulges ones palate.
The growing export numbers are also enhanced by successfully introducing Brazilian wine at international events and fairs and getting the wine on the market in bars, restaurants and hotels. Miolo also launched a wine produced especially for the export market.
“Sales in England rose by over 200 percent with this wine. It was very well received and appreciated by the English,” says a spokesperson at Miolo.
Last year the overall Brazilian wine export to the Netherlands grew by 150 percent due to a highly successful wine tasting mission in partnership with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Brazil is the fifth largest producer of wines in the southern hemisphere, only beaten by Argentina, Australia, South Africa and Chile. Although average wine consumption in Brazil is low – less than two liters per capita – Brazil’s middle class is on the rise which attributes to the rise of the wine market.
It is calculated that Brazil’s wine market is still emerging with a wine drinking population of 20.8 million. They also expect Brazil to become a more prominent player in the world of wine. However, new players in the Brazilian wine market should take into account that Brazil’s foreign tax policy is still changing and evolving, which could greatly impact the wine import business for 2011.