Exclusive news and research on the wine, spirits and beer business

News Briefs for November 16, 2012

November 16, 2012

Total Wine & More is slated to open a new store in Folsom, California, on November 29. The location, housed in a former Borders bookstore space, will stock around 8,000 wines, 3,000 spirits and 2,500 beers. The store will feature Total Wine’s new “next generation” concept, including elements such as a tasting bar, education center and in-store iPads. Total Wine Folsom marks the retail chain’s third location in the Sacramento area, joining stores in Roseville and Arden Way. Total Wine currently operates more than 85 stores across 13 states.

•DISCUS says Maryland package stores are seeing weak sales this year as a direct result of last year’s 50% tax hike on alcohol in the state. DISCUS senior vice president, strategic and economic analysis, David Ozgo, told Maryland’s Economic Advisory Forum that package store sales are down slightly in Maryland this year, while they’re up 3.3% nationwide. “Last year’s ill-advised alcohol tax increase hurt spirits merchants in Maryland by forcing consumers to trade down to less expensive products or simply cross state lines. In fact, the only people not upset by these lackluster results are spirits retailers in surrounding states ringing up Maryland dollars.” Ozgo added that neighboring Virginia (where off-premise depletions are up 5%) and Delaware (+8.8%) are seeing booming package-store sales this year, perhaps boosted by Marylanders crossing state lines for their alcohol purchases.

•Jackson Family Wines has acquired Sonoma Valley-based Richard’s Grove and Saralee’s Vineyard, reports the North Bay Business Journal. Financial details on the deal, which is slated to close next month, weren’t disclosed. A 260-acre estate located in the Russian River Valley, Richard’s Grove and Saralee’s Vineyard boasts a wide range of grape varieties, including four red wine, 11 white wine and 21 table varietals. The property was previously owned by founders Rich and Saralee Kunde, who will continue to retain their nearby Coffey Lane, Matthew’s Station and Catie’s Corner properties, which grow grapes for 15 vintners, including Jackson Family.

•Sparkling wines continued to outpace still wines in SymphonyIRI channels in the year-to-date ending November 4. Sparkling wine case sales increased 9.6% during the period, compared with a 2.9% gain for still wine. Imported sparkling wines (+17%) outpaced domestic sparklers (+6.2%) by volume. Italy led all import origins in sparkling wine volume growth (+17.3%), while Champagne declined 5.8%. Prosecco was the most successful sparkling wine type, up 61.9%. Mid-priced sparklers (from $8-$17.99 a 750-ml. bottle) saw the fastest growth, rising 22%, while those priced $18 and up declined 4% and under-$8 wines declined 0.9%.

•U.K. import Crabbie’s alcoholic ginger beer is making its U.S. debut, rolling out in 18 states. The 4.8%-abv product is packaged in single 16.9-ounce bottles and four-packs of 11-ounce bottles. It’s imported by Massachusetts-based St. Killian Importing and is suggested to be drunk over ice with a slice of lemon or lime, or in cocktails like the Dark and Stormy and the Moscow Mule.

•Sebastopol, California-based River Road Family Vineyards and Winery has produced a Pinot Noir Nouveau, inspired by Beaujolais Nouveau. River Road has marked the first Monday in December as the annual release date for the wine (this year’s inaugural launch falls on December 3). Made from Russian River Valley Pinot Noir grapes and aged for only a few months, only 240 cases of the Pinot Noir Nouveau were produced. It will be priced at $15 a 750-ml. River Road Family Vineyards and Winery is a small-production winery whose namesake wine brand includes a Sonoma County series, a Family series—which highlights other vineyards in the Russian River Valley—and a Reserve series.

•Ohio-based beer-bar chain Winking Lizard will add three new locations early next year, including its second Winks Bar & Grille operation, following the launch of the concept in downtown Cleveland last month. According to partner John Lane, Winking Lizard taverns will open in Columbus and Canton in the first quarter, while the second unit of Winks—a concept specialized in locally produced food and beverages—is slated to open in late April in Beachwood. The chain also will move its Winking Lizard operation in Akron to another site in the city early next year and rebrand it as a combination Winking Lizard/Lizardville operation. (Lizardville, with two existing locations, offers beer for both on- and off-premise consumption, and features a whisky bar, serving 180 different whiskies.) With the three new outlets, Winking Lizard will have a total of 21 units in operation in Ohio. Lane added that the company is interested in adding a Lizardville in Columbus and would like to enter Cincinnati.


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