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News Briefs for April 2, 2014

April 2, 2014

•Mike’s Hard Lemonade Co. is celebrating its 15th anniversary with the release of new flavored products, a redesigned logo and packaging and a refocused media push. The Chicago-based company is entering new territory with Mike’s Hard Smashed Apple Ale made with the juice of Washington apples, which will compete directly with MillerCoors’ Redd’s Apple Ale released in 2013. Also new to the brand’s 14-flavor lineup in 2014 is Mike’s Hard Peach Lemonade, a spring seasonal offering of peaches blended with the company’s signature hard lemonade; new flavored Frozen Pouch Mango Lemonade; and a reformulated Mike’s Lite Hard Lemonade and Black Cherry Lemonade at 5%-abv that includes honey for added sweetness. Mike’s is moving all its products to a new long-neck bottle format whose label emphasizes “Mike’s” in order to connect with consumers on a first-name basis.

•One year ago, Bill Koch posed triumphantly on the steps of a Manhattan federal courthouse holding a magnum of counterfeit Château Petrus 1921. A jury had just awarded the Florida billionaire $10 million in punitive damages in his wine-fraud case against Eric Greenberg, a California Internet entrepreneur and wine collector who had sold him the magnum and other wines at a Zachys auction. But yesterday the trial judge drastically reduced that award to $711,622. He also reduced the jury’s compensatory damages award to Koch to $212,699 from $355,811. Wine Spectator has the full story here.

•E.&J. Gallo is releasing La Marca Prosecco in new 187-ml. bottles, joining the traditional 750-ml. offering. Available nationwide for $5 a 187-ml. ($17 a 750-ml.), the Italian sparkling wine will now be packaged for single servings. A 2013 Impact “Hot Brand,” La Marca saw 25% growth last year to reach 325,000 cases in the U.S., as Prosecco’s popularity continues to surge.

•Rhône winery Lavau is set to launch its range in the U.S. market. Long a supplier to other well-known Rhône producers, Lavau will now market a line of its own branded wines, which run from a Vin de France Syrah at $9 to a Chateauneuf-du-Pape at $33. Lavau, which recently merged with Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s Château Maucoil, acquiring a controlling share in the property, has annual production of more than 800,000 cases. Rhône exports to the U.S. rose 9% last year to 1.1 million cases.

•Delicato Family Vineyards has named industry veteran Chris McFerran as vice president, national accounts. McFerran, who has more than a decade of sales management experience, was most recently Treasury Wine Estates’ director of sales-strategic national accounts, and has also held key roles with Pernod Ricard and Beam Inc. McFerran will report to Mike Jackson, Delicato’s senior vice president, national sales. Delicato says its national accounts division posted sales up 21% to more than 500,000 cases in 2013.

•Crimson Wine Group has named Jason Ledbetter as the new winemaker at its luxury Double Canyon Winery in Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills. Ledbetter was previously assistant winemaker at fellow Crimson winery Pine Ridge in Napa Valley. Double Canyon’s previous vintages were made by Michael Beaulac, who is also winemaker at Pine Ridge. Double Canyon debuted its inaugural 2010 vintage of Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon in select markets last year.

•Fuzzy’s Spirits, LLC has appointed industry veteran Paul Massey as vice president of sales. Massey, who has previously held executive positions with Sobieski, Rémy Martin, The Macallan, Absolut and Cruzan, is tasked with reorganizing Fuzzy’s sales team and “exploring avenues into the craft market” for the company’s namesake brand, Fuzzy’s Ultra-Premium Vodka, created by golfer Fuzzy Zoeller, which is currently distributed to 36 states.

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