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America's 2012 wine exports hit record level

US wines appreciate -- and so does the American economy.

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US wine exports hit record levels in 2012, according to the San Francisco-based Wine Institute. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

PETALUMA, California -- The Wine Institute on Thursday said US wine exports made a record $1.43 billion in revenue last year, posting strong growth for the third year in a row, according to the Associated Press

"We've seen a big demand," said David Gates of Ridge Vineyards in California -- a state that accounted for 90 percent of America's wine exports. "And as demand has picked up, we pushed a little harder into the more developing markets, the biggest one being China," he told AP.

Sales to China hit $74 million last year, said AP, but the biggest purchaser of California wine was the European Union at $485 million. Sweden alone put away nearly 17 million bottles of mostly red California wine last year, said the institute. Demand from Canada came in at a close second, with $434 million. In third place, interestingly, was Hong Kong at $115 million, a figure that ranked high despite seeing a 30 percent decline in demand, said the group. 

Elsewhere in Asia, however, demand for American wine is on the rise; China ordered nearly 20 percent more last year, while demand from South Korea and Vietnam went up 26 and 22 percent, respectively. 

Orders from Mexico have skyrocketed, last year reaching double the amount purchased in 2009, according to this press release from the California-based wine advocacy organization, which assists the US Department of Agriculture's export promotion program. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/130221/americas-2012-wine-exports-hit-record-level