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Prices for California’s top wines rise 32% in 2021

  • California took 7.5% of the market by value in 2021, while the number of wines traded surpassed 500 for the first time.
  • The California 50 index has risen 31.9% in the past year.
  • Screaming Eagle has been the best-performing estate, up 41.7% over the same period.

California’s secondary market is growing

The number of Californian wines traded on Liv-ex has risen almost 480% over the last five years to a reach a record high of 504 by the end of 2021.

Meanwhile, California’s share of the total market (by value) has climbed from 0.1% to 7.9% over the past decade, making it the fourth most-traded fine wine region after Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne. The high quality of its wines combined with strong branding and expanded distribution through La Place de Bordeaux has contributed to its secondary market success.

As the region with the highest number of 100-point wines awarded to it in 2021, California has enjoyed increasing global demand. Even more notable has been the emergence of an active US market (on the buyside) for its wines. This rising demand prompted Liv-ex to launch a weekly stock collection service to members across the Golden State last year, facilitating trade.

With over 139 AVAs and counting, California’s wine market is continuously expanding and a wider array of wines from an increasing number of AVAs are finding new buyers. For example, wines from Howell Mountain traded on Liv-ex for the first time in 2021 – evidence that sub-regional trade is deepening and broadening.

*Based on the leading AVAs listed in the LWIN database.

Californian estates deliver impressive returns

High quality and heightened demand have led to rising prices. The California 50 index, which tracks the price performance of five of the state’s leading labels, has risen 31.9% over the past year, outperforming the industry benchmark Liv-ex 100 (24.6%) and the broadest measure of the market, Liv-ex 1000 (22.3%).

The California 50 index has fared better than most regional Liv-ex 1000 sub-indices, bar the Champagne 50 (47.8%) and Burgundy 150 (36.8%).

All of the estates included in the California 50 index have risen between 10.6% and 41.7% over the past year, with Screaming Eagle being the top performer.

Screaming Eagle leads trade and price performance

In a recent post on the brand’s surging prices, we pointed out that the Screaming Eagle 2010 had a Market Price of around £3,700 (3×75) in 2013, but it is now listed for as much as £12,000 (3×75). Few vintages have a Market Price under £9,000 per three pack.

Performance of the most traded Screaming Eagle vintages in 2021

*made with the Liv-ex Charting tool.

The most traded Screaming Eagle vintages in 2021 have been rising in value too. The 2015 which has been the second most traded, has been the biggest riser over one year, up 15.6%.

The most traded vintage, the 2018, has risen 11.2% over the same period. The wine recently set a trading record on Liv-ex, selling at £36,600 per 12×75. The highest trade on the chart below is for magnum format bottles. Screaming Eagle, and Californian wine in general, are firing on all cylinders.

Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 trades on Liv-ex

Liv-ex analysis is drawn from the world’s most comprehensive database of fine wine prices. The data reflects the real time activity of Liv-ex’s 560+ merchant members from across the globe. Together they represent the largest pool of liquidity in the world – currently £100m of bids and offers across 16,000 wines. Independent data, direct from the market.

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