Wine industry woos largely untapped Latino market

(Houston Chronicle) Every night at dinnertime, Jose Placencia clinks a glass of wine with his wife or friends. He loves the taste, the socializing that unfurls and how wine brings out or calms the flavors of Mexican food.

Wine was never on the menu when Placencia grew up in California’s Central Valley, where his Mexican-born parents picked crops, including grapes. Today, at Placencia’s ranch in the Sierra foothills and in the homes of other area Latinos, wine bottles line up next to plates of quesadillas and carne asada.

Research shows wine consumption among Latinos has increased dramatically over the past five years – much faster than for non-Latinos. The number of glasses of wine consumed by Hispanics per month climbed by nearly 50 percent between 2005 and 2010, while for non-Hispanics the increase was a more modest 16 percent, according to a study by consumer research firm Experian Simmons.

As Latino consumers are uncorking reds and whites, the wine industry is trying to attract more of America’s largest ethnic group. Several winemakers are running media campaigns aimed at Latinos. And the wine trade association in California’s agricultural heartland is focusing its upcoming wine tasting and competition on them.

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