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News Briefs for February 27, 2015

February 27, 2015

•The Pennsylvania state House of Representatives voted this week to approve a proposal to privatize the state’s wine and liquor retail sales and wholesale business through a series of private licenses, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The proposal now heads to the Senate, which did not take action on a similar House bill in the last session, instead attempting to write its own. The Senate Republican leader told the paper, however, that it would review the approved House bill. Democratic Governor Tom Wolf is against privatization and is instead seeking to improve the existing system to generate more revenue for the state. Republican House leaders say the network of 600 state-run stores is inconvenient for consumers and that government shouldn’t be involved in selling alcohol. Democrats who oppose the move argue the government could make improvements to expand accessibility. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) recently reported wine and spirits sales totaling $993.1 million in its first fiscal half ending December 31, a 4.6% increase over the year-earlier period.

•Vancouver-based importer and marketer Andrew Peller Import Agency has expanded its reach to encompass all of Canada except Quebec. Previously, the company’s wine and spirits stable was only available throughout the region’s western provinces, including British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Formerly known as Grady Wine Marketing, Andrew Peller Import Agency—a division of Canadian wine group Andrew Peller Limited—was rebranded late last year. In addition to handling Andrew Peller Limited’s Calona Vineyards and Peller Estates, the agency also imports the Caymus Vineyards, Seghesio Family Vineyards, Hahn Family Wines, Marchesi de Frescobaldi, Gonzales-Byass and Hine Cognac brands, among others.

•Nashville’s Fishbowl Spirits—a venture founded by country singer-songwriter Kenny Chesney—has appointed David Farmer to the newly-created role of president. Effective immediately, Farmer will oversee all operations for Fishbowl and the group’s flagship Blue Chair Bay Rum brand, reporting directly to company chairman Chesney. Concurrent with his new responsibilities, Farmer will continue to serve in his existing role as Chesney’s tour manager. Launched in 2013, Fishbowl’s Blue Chair Bay Rum range retails for around $19 a 750-ml. and features White, Coconut, Coconut Spiced and Banana entries.

•The World of Beer, a chain of craft beer bars founded in Tampa, Florida in 2007 that has grown to nearly 70 locations in 20 states, is planning to expand to Chicago for the first time with five locations, according to Ted Mavrakis, a local investor who owns the Illinois franchise rights. His first site will be in a landmark building in the middle of the Loop, and another is planned for South Michigan Avenue. The fast-rising chain, which offers more than 500 beers (50 on tap) in each of its bar/restaurants, has recently expanded to Pooler, Georgia; Metairie, Louisiana; Destin, Florida; and West Hartford, Connecticut. Plans call for expansion into Cheektowaga, New York and Columbus, Ohio.

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