Under New Ownership, Mendoza-Based Argento Wine Company Continues U.S. PushDecember 26, 2012
Already a well-established player in Europe and other international markets, Mendoza’s Argento Wine Company sells around 600,000 nine-liter cases across more than 50 countries. The winery—previously owned by a joint venture between U.K. importer Bibendum and local Argentine player Bodegas Esmeralda—switched hands in September, when it was acquired by Argentine wine group Inversora Agroindustrial Sudamericana (IAS) for an undisclosed sum. Despite that transition, Argento continues to make progress with its premium wine portfolio in the U.S., where expects to sell 22,500 cases on 47% growth this year. According to Polly Long, marketing manager for Argento, the company is aiming to hit global volume of 850,000 cases over the next five years, 85,000 of which is expected to be U.S.-based.
Argento, which entered the U.S. in 2009 (it rolled out internationally a decade earlier), markets Malbec, Bonarda, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio (priced at $12.99 a 750-ml.) and Reserva Malbec ($15.99) in the U.S., all of which are handled by Distinguished Vineyards and Wine Partners, Lion Nathan’s North American wine import unit. The Malbec and Reserva Malbec are Argento’s most popular expressions, together accounting for well more than half the brand’s U.S. volume.
Argento’s U.S. strategy has revolved largely around by-the-glass programs on-premise, as well as careful placement in off-premise accounts. “We’re aiming for premium positioning within progressive fine wine stores, as well as at grocery outlets that have strong wine credentials,” explains Long. Argento’s Bonarda, for example, recently gained a listing with upscale grocery chain Whole Foods.
Being under the Inversora Agroindustrial Sudamericana umbrella offers Argento additional leverage, Long argues. IAS’s holdings include hundreds of hectares of premium vineyards throughout Mendoza, as well as Uruguay’s Bodega Vistalba and California’s Renwood Winery. “We have the resources and ability to grow,” says Long. “We believe Argento has the potential to become a leading Argentine brand.”
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