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

News Briefs for September 2, 2015

September 2, 2015

•China’s Alibaba Group has unveiled a new wine-centric “Vineyard Direct” program on its Tmall online marketplace—the largest third-party e-commerce platform in China—beginning with the opening of a Robert Mondavi Wines flagship store. Under Tmall Vineyard Direct, wineries can partner directly with the e-commerce group and “leverage the power of the Alibaba ecosystem to pioneer innovative sales and marketing campaigns to the 367 million buyers on our platforms,” said Tmall head of international business development Gary Clubb. SND delved into China’s burgeoning e-commerce market for wine and spirits in this recent post.

•Importer and distributor The Winebow Group has acquired Minnesota distributor Grape Beginnings for an undisclosed sum. Under terms of the deal, the Minnesota wholesaler will continue to operate as Grape Beginnings and will be overseen by Joe Siler, The Winebow Group’s general manager of the Midwest region. Grape Beginnings co-founders Peter and Katie Carroll will remain onboard to manage day-to-day operations. The move marks The Winebow Group’s first foray into wholesaling in Minnesota, bringing the company’s wholesale presence to a total of 17 U.S. markets.

•Heaven Hill Brands has completed its acquisition of Impact “Hot Brand” Deep Eddy vodka. Announced last month, the deal gives Heaven Hill a fast-rising premium vodka player that’s expected to rise from 330,000 cases in 2014 to 675,000 cases this year, according to Impact Databank projections. While the price was undisclosed, a well-placed source recently told SND the agreement was for “north of $400 million.”

•The Glenrothes has launched a new Reserve Collection of non-age-stated single malts nationwide. The Reserve Collection includes: Sherry Cask Reserve ($59.99), the Glenrothes’ first all first-fill Sherry cask offering; Bourbon Cask Reserve ($59.99), matured exclusively in American oak refill Bourbon casks; and Vintage Reserve ($54), a blend of 10 vintages from the last three decades. The Glenrothes, which is part of the Berry Bros. & Rudd portfolio, is handled in the U.S. by Anchor Distilling Co.

•California winery Qupé is introducing a new Santa Barbara County Syrah this month. Retailing at around $30 a bottle, Qupé’s new Syrah is made using biodynamic and organic grapes from the best blocks of its Bien Nacido and Sawyer Lindquist vineyards. Specializing in Rhône-style reds, Qupé was acquired by Charles Banks’ Terroir Inc. in 2013.

•Seattle sales and marketing company DrinkSpace has added Oregon’s Elizabeth Chambers Cellar to its portfolio. The Chambers family founded Elizabeth Chambers Cellar in 2013 in the former Panther Creek Cellars winery in McMinnville, after selling the Panther Creek brand. Led by former Folio Fine Wine executive Thomas Vogele and marketing/advertising veteran Steve Reed, DrinkSpace provides sales and marketing direction for small to mid-sized producers.

•Whole Foods Market is launching a range of single-serve canned wines nationwide under the Denver-based Infinite Monkey Theorem brand. The lineup includes a white, red, rosé and Moscato, all available in four-packs of 250-ml. cans that retail at around $15 each. The range is currently available at Whole Foods outposts across California, Colorado, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Florida, Oregon, Texas and Washington state, with additional markets to be added shortly.

•Hahn Family Wines has appointed Michael Hill to the newly created role of director of national accounts, off-premise. Reporting directly to Hahn’s vice president, sales, U.S., Martha Ekwurtzel, Hill previously worked with Foley Family Wines, The Hess Collection and Constellation.

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