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News Briefs for January 22, 2014

January 22, 2014

•Gallo Family Vineyards is introducing a limited edition bottling of its Hearty Burgundy offering in tribute to the blend’s 50th anniversary. Hearty Burgundy’s anniversary edition will launch in February at $9 a 1.5-liter bottle. Adorned with a gold label and 50th anniversary seal, Gallo says the limited release was crafted in consultation with Hearty Burgundy’s original winemakers. While the exact varietal components of Hearty Burgundy vary from vintage to vintage, Gallo notes that Zinfandel and Petite Sirah are always included, the former for its brambleberry flavors and latter for its dark fruit and depth. The Gallo Family Vineyards brand family declined 1% to 3 million cases in IRI channels in the 52 weeks through December 29.

•Napa-based importer Old Bridge Cellars has joined with Evening Land Vineyards founder Mark Tarlov on a new Pinot Noir-focused venture, Maison L’Envoye. Translating to “house of the messenger,” Maison L’Envoye will house a range of Pinot Noirs from Burgundy and Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Handled by Old Bridge and rolling out now to national distribution, the range includes Bourgogne Blanc ($20), Bourgogne Rouge ($25), Morgon Cote du Py ($20) and Savigny-les-Beaune ‘Les Marconnets’ 1’er Cru ($42), all from Burgundy, as well as two Willamette Pinot expressions: Two Messengers ($30) and The Attache ($40). The Maison L’Envoye project is intended to “champion unsung growers who have worked their vineyards over multiple decades and generations.”

•Accolade Wines’ Geyser Peak brand is moving into the former Alderbrook Winery property near downtown Healdsburg in northern Sonoma County. Accolade plans to house a tasting room and administrative offices at the site. Light remodeling of the tasting room is expected to be completed in March or April 2014, with the winery’s current Geyserville tasting room site—acquired with the rest of the former Geyser Peak Winery by Francis Ford Coppola last March— remaining open in the meantime. Last November, Treasury Wine Estates agreed to provide production and packaging services for Geyser Peak, along with Accolade Wines’ Atlas Peak and XYZin. Packaging began that month at TWE’s Napa bottling facility and production activity will start with the 2014 vintage at its Asti Winery near Cloverdale, California. Accolade repacked Geyser Peak last fall and has also reorganized the product line, expanding its core tier and adding new ultra-premium and luxury entries.

•A. Hardy USA has partnered with Indiana’s Pay Dirt Brands to launch Michael Godard vodka and gin in the U.S. market. Produced in Holland, the brand is named for modern artist and philanthropist Michael Godard, and features Godard’s original artwork on the labels. Michael Godard gin ($35.99 a 750-ml.) is a small-batch offering made with Dutch wheat, juniper, vanilla beans and citrus, while sister brand Michael Godard vodka ($31.99 a 750-ml.) is also made with Dutch wheat and distilled five times. Both entries are available nationwide. In addition to Michael Godard vodka and gin, Illinois-based A. Hardy also handles the Hardy Cognac, RumChata, Fratello and Thatcher’s Organic liqueur and Drappier Champagne brands, among others, in the U.S.

•Massachusetts-based M.S. Walker has unveiled Kennedy Irish, a new Irish whiskey brand featuring several flavor infusions. The range, which is produced in West Cork, Ireland, features Original, Limed, Honeyed, Spiced and Chillied entries, all of which are priced at $22 a 750-ml. Concurrently, the company has also extended its Screech rum brand ($18.99) with new Screech Honey ($19.99) and Screech Spiced ($19.99) flavored offshoots. Screech Honey is made with oak-aged Jamaican rum, while Screech Spiced is imported from Guyana and made with a blend of 4- to 8-year-old Demerara rum and spices. In addition to the new entries, M.S. Walker has also updated the label design across the full Screech lineup, intended to emphasize the brand’s nautical heritage.

•Austin, Texas’ Deep Eddy Vodka has added a new cranberry flavor to its lineup, which will hit shelves in select markets in February 2014. Deep Eddy Cran is made with cranberries harvested from New England cranberry farms and pure cane sugar and will be available in 50-ml., 750-ml., 1-liter and 1.75-liter bottles. Deep Eddy Cran joins Ruby Red (Grapefruit) and Sweet Tea in the product line, as well as the core unflavored vodka. The newcomer will initially be available in 13 states and Washington D.C., with more markets to be added throughout the year.

•North American Breweries (NAB) CEO Rich Lozyniak will step down once the company finds a replacement. Lozyniak has been CEO of NAB since 2009. NAB’s brands include Labatt, Genesee, Seagram’s Escapes, Magic Hat, Pyramid, the Original Honey Brown Lager, Dundee Ales & Lagers and Portland Brewing. Parent company Florida Ice & Farm Co (part of Cerveceria Costa Rica), which acquired NAB from private equity group KPS Capital in 2012, hopes to find a new CEO by the end of the first quarter. NAB vice president of marketing Peter Bodenham will also leave the company after 20 years of service, with James Pendegraft—with NAB since 2003 in various high-level sales and marketing roles—set to replace him.

•Southern Wine & Spirits (SWS) has named Jim Andrus as senior vice president, general manager of Northern California. In his new position, Andrus succeeds Steve Harden, who was named in November 2013 to the new role of executive vice president, sales, for SWS-California. Andrus will report directly to Harden. Prior to this appointment, Andrus served as SWS-California vice president, general manager of Central Valley.

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