Exclusive news and research on the wine, spirits and beer business

News Briefs for March 17, 2015

March 17, 2015

•Napa-based Crimson Wine Group saw revenues advance by 3% to $58 million last year on a volume increase of 2% to 315,000 cases, the company said. Operating income jumped by 68% to $9 million for the year. In an SEC filing, Crimson added that it “has been placing increasing emphasis on direct sales to consumers … which represented 11% of case sales and 38% of wine revenues” last year. In terms of sales through wholesalers, California remains Crimson’s primary market, comprising 19% of volume and 15% of value within its three-tier business. New Jersey, Texas, Florida, Massachusetts, Illinois and Minnesota combine for another 32% of case volume and 23% of value. Crimson added in its filing that it intends to boost the capacity of Sonoma’s Seghesio Family Vineyards from 170,000 cases to 250,000 cases going forward.

•Diageo has partnered with Emmy-winning celebrity chef and editor Sandra Lee for the launch of a new line of premixed Margarita cocktails. Sandra Lee Cocktail Time Margaritas are available in Key Lime and Strawberry and made with real Key limes and strawberries, pure cane sugar, blue agave silver Tequila, Triple Sec liqueur and natural flavors. The RTD is gluten-free and has fewer than 150 calories per 4-ounce serving, the company says. The release comes ahead of Cinco de Mayo and summer entertaining. It’s being supported by Lee’s consumer magazine as well as social activations on Pinterest, YouTube and Facebook, in-store promotions, point-of-sale material, and a cause-marketing campaign, Cocktail Time for a Cause. Sandra Lee Cocktail Time Margaritas (13% abv) are available nationwide, retailing at $15.99 a 750-ml.

•Boutique wine and beer retail chain WineStyles Tasting Station has announced plans to expand its U.S. presence to nearly 50 stores over the next few years. Currently operating more than 20 locations across the country, WineStyles is soliciting franchisees in new markets such as Cedar Rapids, Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa; and Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; as well as in its existing markets of metro Chicago, Illinois; Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas; Des Moines, Iowa; Omaha, Nebraska; Houston, Texas; Greensboro, North Carolina; and Northern Virginia. Concurrent with the expansion drive, the company has revealed an updated store design at its flagship Coralville, Iowa location. Headquartered in Des Moines, WineStyles Tasting Station specializes in offering a rotating wine selection priced primarily between $15-$30 a bottle, as well as regional craft beers, artisanal cheeses, fine chocolates and other gourmet items.

•Spirits importer and marketer Megapolis, part of Eastern Europe’s Global Spirits, has rebranded as Global Spirits USA and appointed a number of new executives. Maxim Dubossarsky has been named CEO of Global Spirits USA, overseeing a unit known for the Khortytsa, Morosha, Pervak and Leaf vodka brands. Dubossarsky, who joined Global Spirits as international sales director in 2012, replaces Sergey Velychko. Meanwhile, Steve Ackerman, formerly of Van Gogh Imports, William Grant & Sons and Allied Domecq, has been tapped to fill the new role of national sales director. Global Spirits USA also has named several new regional managers as it looks to expand from its current eight-state territory to full national distribution.

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