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News Briefs for April 29, 2013

April 29, 2013

•Wine importer and wholesaler the Vintner Group is expanding its presence in Georgia’s wholesale tier with an agreement to acquire fine wine and craft spirits distributor Quality Wine & Spirits for an undisclosed sum. Expected to close April 30, the deal will see Quality join the Vintner Group’s existing Georgia operation, which also includes the recently acquired Prestige Wine Wholesale. Quality and Prestige will be fused going forward, with Quality founder and president Joe Best staying on in the top executive role and joining the Vintner Group’s executive team. The Vintner Group says the deal will grant it a leadership position in the fine wine and craft spirits wholesale business in Georgia. The company’s other wholesale markets include Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina (as The Country Vintner) and Florida (as Stacole Fine Wines).

•21st Century Spirits’ Blue Ice Vodka has received approval from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to feature a “Gluten Free” designation on its package label. A potato vodka priced at around $20 a 750-ml., Blue Ice is the first spirit brand to receive a gluten free certificate of label approval from the TTB. The designation, which appears within a red badge, is now printed on Blue Ice’s flagship vodka packaging nationwide. Produced by Distilled Resources Inc. in Rigby, Idaho, the Blue Ice brand also includes Blue Ice Organic Wheat Vodka ($24) and Blue Ice G Vodka ($15) expressions.

•Nashville, Tennessee-based supplier Lipman Brands has unveiled new additions to its spirits and beer portfolios, as well as the relaunch of the El Diamante del Cielo Tequila brand. Acquired by Lipman in 2010, Cielo will re-enter the market this year with new packaging for its Anejo, Reposado and Silver offerings. The relaunch follows the company’s recent addition of American-made Heroes Vodka in February, as well as craft beer brand Napa Smith Brewery—which produces nearly a dozen offerings—in January. Later this year, Lipman plans to introduce Old Hickory Great American Whiskey, a handcrafted grain whiskey produced in Bardstown, Kentucky. Alongside its new offerings, Lipman’s portfolio also includes the Lonely Cow wine, Country Club spirits and Hap & Harry’s beer brands. Meanwhile, Lipman has also named former Paddington Brands chairman J. Smoke Wallin as managing director.

•Purity vodka has appointed Meg Bruno to the newly created role of U.S. director of marketing, effective immediately. Bruno will report directly to president and CEO Andy Glaser. She joins Purity from a senior account director position at NCompass, managing clients such as Toyota, Best Buy, Microsoft, LG and General Mills. Concurrently, the company has named Linda Magnertoft as international marketing manager. She will be based in Sweden and will be responsible for extending Purity’s global reach, with a focus on Europe and Asia. Produced at Ellinge Castle in southern Sweden, Purity was initially rolled out to the U.S. market in 2009 and launched a new bottle design last fall.

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