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Sonoma Valley’s B.R. Cohn Scales Back To Refocus On High-End Cabernet

March 7, 2014

Family-owned California winery B.R. Cohn tells SND it has new wines and fresh packaging in the works as it looks to recenter its focus on upscale Sonoma Valley estate Cabernet Sauvignon under newly appointed second-generation CEO Dan Cohn. Among a slate of upcoming initiatives, the winery will release a new Gold Label Cabernet at $40 a bottle around May 1. It’s also prepping a batch of high-end single-block wines from its Olive Hill Estate Vineyard, which are expected to hit the market next spring.

Along with introducing new products, Cohn says the winery is reducing production on its core Silver Label North Coast Cabernet (retailing at $25) to include more Olive Hill fruit in the blend. “Silver Label has been a mid- to high-tier by-the-glass pour, around $13-$15, and we’ll maintain that position, but at a lower volume,” he notes, adding that B.R. Cohn currently does around 70% of its business on-premise. Overall, the company expects to sell about 50,000 cases this year, from more than 80,000 previously.

B.R. Cohn Silver Label is also getting revamped packaging this year, with a new design that Cohn describes as an “enhancement, not a departure from our core equities.” The wine’s new look—and new blend—will roll out in April. In addition to Silver Label and the new products mentioned above, the B.R. Cohn portfolio also includes Olive Hill Estate ($60) and Special Selection ($100) tiers, as well as small amounts of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel.

Cohn took over the reins at the family business in January from his father, founder Bruce Cohn, who’s stepping back to concentrate on his duties as manager of the band The Doobie Brothers (Olive Hill was originally acquired to serve as Cohn’s refuge from the band’s hectic touring schedule, back in 1974). The younger Cohn was previously SVP, national sales manager, since 2001, and prior to that gained industry experience in a series of roles with Young’s Market Co. “We’re one of the few family wineries left in the Sonoma Valley, and one of the only single-estate Sonoma Valley Cabs,” he says. “We want to emphasize that and get back to what the winery was founded on.”

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