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Global sales of Prosecco have more than doubled in the past decade.Luca Bruno/The Associated Press

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As Prosecco sales continue to boom, foreign wineries want to join the party

The latest release from Kim Crawford might come as a surprise. The celebrated New Zealand winery has branched out to make Prosecco in Italy.

It’s an enjoyable wine but raises some questions.

One of the most popular sauvignon blanc brands in North America, Kim Crawford has earned consumer confidence with the consistent quality of the wines it makes in New Zealand. Will wine-lovers care they don’t have the same expertise working with a different grape variety in another part of the world?

If the wine is seen to be well-made and well-priced, I suspect Kim Crawford fans will lap it up. A considerable number might not even make the distinction that the wine was made in Italy. The allure of Kim Crawford will be enough to trigger the purchase.

More critical consumers will look at the selection of Prosecco available and choose accordingly.

They may embrace the reputation of Mionetto, which has been making wine for 130 years in Valdobbiadene, the small village where some of the top Proseccos are made.

They might be impressed by the stylish packaging of the range of Bottega bubblies on the shelf, including the affordable Vino Dei Poeti Prosecco, which has been used to make countless bellinis and mimosas at brunch spots across the country.

Kim Crawford launched its inaugural Prosecco in Ontario for $22.95, a premium price point in an incredibly competitive category. Personally, I’d spend a dollar more to enjoy the more racy and refined character of Nino Franco Rustico Brut Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Superiore. But the softer, sweeter style of the Kim Crawford version is sure to be more in line with the tastes of its fan base.

These sorts of brand extensions are becoming more prevalent as the global taste for Prosecco continues to increase. Popular California brands, such as Cupcake and Josh, have their own established Prosecco labels. They were early to capitalize on the increasing interest in the refreshing, fruity, fizzy wines from Italy.

Successful Cava producer Freixenet, which is credited as being the largest producer of traditional method sparkling wine in the world, launched its own Prosecco label in 2017. At the time, the company explained it identified a need for a high-quality product in the category.

Until recently, it was rare to see a bottle of Prosecco selling for more than $20. Its cheap and cheerful character appealed to the mass market. Global sales of Prosecco have more than doubled in the past decade and inspired the introduction of the new Prosecco rosé category.

But as the category continues to be more competitive, I wonder how many Prosecco producers will charge down the premiumization path that inspired French rosé producers to raise quality and prices in a bid to stand out or, at very least, keep up with the Crawfords.

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