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News Briefs for February 13, 2015

February 13, 2015

•California-based importer and marketer The San Francisco Wine Exchange (SFWE) is under new ownership, following the December retirement of founder Hugh Thacher. SFWE is now owned by Jose Maria Barale—owner of Brazil-based energy company Grupo Alubar—and Diego Lo Prete, a wine industry veteran who was selected by Thacher as his successor at the helm of SFWE. Lo Prete, who has served as SFWE general manager over the past year, will now become the company’s president, with Thacher remaining on the company’s advisory board. In addition, SFWE has named David Maib as director of national sales and Oliver Portet as director of portfolio management and marketing. Maib most recently served as director of national sales and marketing for Gruet Winery, while Portet was most recently director of regional accounts at Frederick Wildman.

•Hess Family Wine Estates has appointed Texas-based wine sales and marketing firm The Mark Wine Group as its representative for on-premise national accounts. Under the partnership, The Mark Wine Group will be charged with handling marketing and sales support for Hess Family Wine Estates’ The Hess Collection (Napa), Colomé (Argentina), Amalaya (Argentina), MacPhail Family Wines (Sonoma), Artezin (Mendocino) and Glen Carlou (South Africa) brands. Established in 2007, The Mark Wine Group currently has partnerships with more than 150 hotel and restaurant companies throughout the U.S.

•MillerCoors has officially unveiled two new flavored malt beverage (FMB) offerings to its Steel Reserve Alloy Series, Margarita and Hard Pineapple. Joining BLK Berry and Spiked Punch in the Alloy Series, Steel Reserve Margarita and Hard Pineapple are 8% abv and will be backed by an out-of-home campaign under the tagline “Curious is Calling.” MillerCoors accounts for nearly 30% of U.S. beer sales.

•Folio Fine Wine Partners has joined the Wirtz Beverage portfolio in Wisconsin. The move will see Wirtz handle Folio’s 28 brands—including labels from California, Italy, Spain, Austria and Germany—across the state. The Folio range was previously distributed by Johnson Bros. and Frank Liquors in Wisconsin. Wirtz, which had estimated revenues of $365 million in Wisconsin last year according to Impact Newsletter, also recently added Groth Vineyards & Winery to its stable in the Badger State.

•Bacardi Ltd. has named Constantino Spas as managing director, Latin America and Caribbean, effective immediately. Spas succeeds Paolo Perego, who was recently appointed head of Bacardi Europe. Spas joined Bacardi in 2011 as vice president, sales and marketing for Latin America, and was most recently Northern LAC Hub Leader, driving commercial activities across nearly 40 countries and territories. Prior to joining the family-owned spirits group, Spas held various sales and marketing leadership roles with SABMiller, Cerveceria Polar and Kraft Foods.

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