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

News Briefs for January 28, 2013

January 28, 2013

•A Texas state legislator says her new bill to allow liquor stores to open on Sundays would bring millions of dollars into state coffers if passed into law, but many local liquor store owners are against the move. State representative Senfronia Thompson, a Houston Democrat, introduced House Bill 421 earlier this month. If passed by both houses of the legislature and signed into law by governor Rick Perry, the bill will allow liquor stores in Texas to be open from noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday. While Texas’s 35,000-plus bars and restaurants are permitted to sell beverage alcohol on Sundays, and the state’s grocery and convenience stores may sell beer and wine on Sundays, liquor stores have been prohibited from opening on Sundays since before Prohibition. Some store owners don’t want that to change. “Spec’s is a family-owned business and we are not for Sunday sales,” Johnnie Stone, a district manager for Spec’s, one of Texas’s biggest liquor store chains, recently told the Fox News affiliate in Lubbock. A similar bill failed to gain legislative approval in 2011.

•Italy’s Enoitalia—producer of the Voga Italia, Luna Di Luna, Lady Lola, Ca’ Montini, Lupi Reali, Si Italia and Giorgio & Gianni brands, among others—has launched its own importing arm in the U.S., Enovation Brands, Inc. Based in Aventura, Florida, Enovation began operations on January 1. With the exception of Lady Lola, which is new to the U.S. market, Enoitalia’s brands were previously imported by Aveníu Brands, F.X. Magner Selections and Majestic Fine Wines. Enovation’s president, Alberto Pecora, formerly worked on Enoitalia labels as a brand manager at Aveníu Brands. Enoitalia claims to be the second-largest winery in Italy by volume, with annual sales of approximately 8 million cases across 70 countries.

•Direct-to-consumer sales of wine were up by 10% last year to $1.46 billion, according to data gathered by ShipCompliant, as direct shipments reached 3.17 million cases. Though direct sales have continued to grow, they still only represent about 5% of the U.S. wine market. Currently, around 40 states allow some form of direct-shipping. Proponents of direct sales are considering efforts to raise the issue in the state legislatures of Utah and Pennsylvania this year. The segment could also see a boost from the entry of Amazon.com, which launched its Amazon Wine Marketplace last November, including over a thousand wine labels that are shipped direct from the winery.

•Ruth’s Chris Steak House has unveiled a new cocktail menu for 2013, including tableside Julep service. Guests are offered two styles of Juleps—a classic recipe featuring Bulleit Bourbon and a sparkling pear variation comprising Absolut Citron and Hangar One Spiced Pear vodkas—that are prepared tableside over crushed ice in a traditional silver Julep cup. Guests can also choose from a list of specialty cocktails inspired by classic recipes, including the Blackberry Sidecar (made with Rémy Martin VSOP Cognac, Cointreau, Fee Brothers Plum bitters and muddled blackberries) and the Port of Manhattan (featuring Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Fonseca Bin No. 27 Port and Angostura bitters), among others. There are currently more than 130 Ruth’s Chris Steak Houses nationwide and abroad.


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