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Source: San Francisco Business Times
By: Chris Rauber

Despite a struggling U.S. economy and a slower-than-usual holiday season, imports of Argentine wines were up 43.2 percent in value and 34.1 percent in volume last year, Vine Connections, a Sausalito-based importer, said Friday.

And imports of Argentine Malbec, the country’s signature grape varietal, shot up 60.9 percent in value and 60.4 in volume during the same period, the company said, using data from Argentina’s Department of Customs.

These figures weren’t a surprise to Ed Lehrman and Nick Ramkowsky, founders of Vine Connections, which imports Argentine wines and Japanese ginjo sake. They say they recognized the potential of Argentina, now the world’s fifth-largest wine-producing country, a decade ago, before many Americans had even tasted an Argentine wine. Today, the 10-year-old firm represents 42 wines from 12 boutique Argentine wineries, which Vine Connections says is the largest portfolio of any single U.S. importer of ultra- and super-premium Argentine wines.

“For the last 10 years, we’ve watched the demand for Argentine wines grow year after year,” Lehrman said in the Feb. 6 statement, noting that demand is strong for Argentine imports in the $15 and higher price range.

Vine Connections is the exclusive importer of wines including Añoro, BenMarco, Budini, Crios de Susana Balbo, La Posta, Luca, Mapema, Mendel, Nosotros, Reginato, Susana Balbo Signature Wines and Tikal.

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