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Precept Helps Drive Northwest Wine Growth, Projecting 1 Million Cases In 2013

May 15, 2013

Thanks to a combination of acquisitions and organic growth, Northwest winemaker Precept Wine expects to pass the 1-million-case mark in 2013, co-founder and CEO Andrew Browne tells Shanken News Daily.

“A rising tide lifts all boats, and in the Northwest wine industry—whether it’s Idaho, Oregon or Washington—we’ve got a rising tide,” Browne says.

Seattle-based Precept’s portfolio consists of labels from Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Key brands driving growth are its Washington-sourced labels Chocolate Shop ($12-$15) and Radius ($10).

Chocolate Shop, which launched in 2011 as one of the pioneers in the “chocolate wine” segment, expanded by around 25% to more than 100,000 cases last year. Radius, introduced two years ago in partnership with Total Wine & More, is expected to reach 100,000 cases this year.

Precept’s other key Washington labels include House Wine ($10) and Waterbrook ($11-$55), which has appeared in Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list in three of the past four years and did about 80,000 cases last year.

Precept is also expanding through acquisitions. Last summer, the group purchased Idaho’s largest winery, Ste. Chapelle, from the now-defunct Ascentia Wine Estates. That deal added 150,000 cases to the portfolio. Precept will unveil fresh packaging for Ste. Chapelle this summer: the new look aims to give a better sense of place for the Idaho winery.

Yesterday, Precept announced another deal—the acquisition of Yamhela Vineyard, located in Oregon’s Yamhill-Carlton AVA, for an undisclosed sum. Over the next five years, Precept wants to expand Yamhela’s 30 planted acres to 120 acres of the vineyard’s total of 374 acres. Precept vice president of vineyard operations David Minick says Yamhela will likely support a new premium brand, with a price point in the low $30s at minimum.

Precept’s Oregon portfolio already includes premium Pinot Noir brands Battle Creek, Primarius and Windy Bay. The on-premise has been especially fertile ground for Precept’s Oregon wines, according to Browne. “One area we target with Oregon is by-the-glass,” he says. “We’ve been growing at triple-digits in that space for the last couple of years. Restaurateurs are extremely positive. Oregon wines are becoming more and more prevalent on wine lists.”

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