PARIS (Reuters) -French wine and spirits exports hit a new record high in value last year, boosted by the lifting of U.S. tariffs and the economic recovery after the pandemic, French industry group FEVS said on Monday.

Sales abroad of wine and spirits – France’s second-biggest export after the aerospace sector – reached 15.5 billion euros ($17.6 billion) in 2021, up 28% on 2020 and 11% above 2019, the Federation of French Wine and Spirits Exporters (FEVS) said.

U.S. duties imposed on French wine in October 2019, as part of Washington’s response to illegal EU aircraft subsidies, and restrictions that shut restaurants, bars and duty free stores due to the pandemic had slashed French alcohol exports in 2020.

Last year’s exports also rose in volume, although to a lesser extent, reaching 203 million cases of 12 bottles, up 11% from 2020 and 4% above 2019.

“The growth in value is almost three times the rate of growth in volume, showing the increasing added value of wine and spirits exports,” FEVS President Cesar Giron said.

Wine shipments to the United States, by far France’s largest export market in value, jumped 34% last year to 4.1 billion euros, with a surge recorded as soon as sanctions were suspended in March, FEVS said.

Exports to the U.S. market were also up 10% versus 2019, it said.

But French wine exports this year and next could be hurt by lower output after spring frosts ravaged vineyards, with the timing depending on how long the wine needs to age, Giron said.

Total wine output fell 23% last year, with the Beaujolais region harvesting only half of its average volume while the prestigious Bordeaux region saw output fall by a quarter, farm ministry data showed.

Champagne producers, who announced record sales on Monday, said the lower supply should not affect availability, however, as producers will be able to use their stocks. Champagne is typically made from a combination of wines produced the previous year and earlier.

(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide, Editing by William Maclean and Angus MacSwan)

FILE PHOTO: A visitor tastes wine at Wine Paris & Vinexpo at the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles center in Paris, France, February 14, 2022. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier