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

News Briefs for January 19, 2016

January 19, 2016

•New York-based Pasternak Wine Imports has added to its California portfolio, agreeing to handle distribution and marketing for the Russian River Valley’s Thomas George Estates. The winery’s lineup includes two independent brands: Thomas George Estate Wines, dedicated to estate-grown Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley AVA; and Noble Tree Wines, comprised of estate-grown Sonoma County grapes with an emphasis on Cabernet Sauvignon. Thomas George Estates owns over 137 planted acres, including properties once owned by Russian River Valley pioneers Davis Bynum and Gary Farrell.

•Delicato Family Vineyards (DFV) is boosting its presence at the super-premium tier with the launch of a new wine brand, Z. Alexander Brown, in collaboration with musician Zac Brown and Napa Valley winemaker John Killebrew. The Z. Alexander Brown portfolio includes a Cabernet Sauvignon and Proprietary Red Blend, which are debuting nationally, retailing at around $20 a bottle.

•Sonoma’s V2 Wine Group has announced a sales and marketing partnership with Napa’s Merryvale Family of Wines (MFW), effective February 1. V2 will handle Merryvale’s wines throughout the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. Owned by the Schlatter Family, the MFW range includes four distinct brands: Merryvale Vineyards, Profile Collection, Starmont Vineyards and Winery and Forward Kidd, all of which are produced in Napa Valley. René Schlatter, CEO of MFW, said the V2 deal will expand three-tier distribution for the company’s brands, which already have a developed direct-to-consumer following.

•Diageo has debuted its newly revised DRINKiQ website, enhancing the nutrition, calorie and alcohol content information available about all of its brands. DRINKiQ offers a breakdown of calories, carbohydrates and protein as well as, for the first time, detailing saturated fat, sugar, caffeine and sodium content on Diageo drinks labels. It also includes new tools such as a ‘Drinks Calculator’, to help people calculate and track their alcohol and calorie intake, and responsible drinking tips and advice on how food, age, size and gender affects how the body processes alcohol. Long a proponent of introducing serving facts on beverage alcohol products, Diageo rolled out its first such packaging last fall, starting with its Crown Royal brand.

•Domaine Select Wine & Spirits (DSWS) has added France’s Suze Bitters to its national import portfolio. Suze Bitters’ offerings include Aromatic Bitters, Red Aromatic Bitters and Orange Bitters (all 40% abv and $30 a 200-ml.). Concurrently, DSWS’s DSMerchants distribution unit will begin handling products from New Mexico’s KGB Spirits, including Brim Stone Absinthe ($70 a 750-ml.) and three whiskies: Governor’s Reserve 4 Year, John David Albert 5 Year Single Barrel and Turley Mill Rye Whiskey Cask Strength ($45-$85). Also joining DSMerchants is Bowen’s American Whiskey ($50) from California, J.P. Trodden Small Batch Bourbon ($70) from Washington and Rebellious Rye Whiskey ($45) from California’s Twisted Manzanita Brewery and Distillery.

•Napa Valley’s Bounty Hunter Rare Wine & Spirits has named Mike DiNapoli chief operating officer. DiNapoli, who has served as Bounty Hunter’s CFO for the past two years, will now add operational oversight to his purview. Prior to joining Bounty Hunter, DiNapoli held operational and financial roles with Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Renwood Winery and Cameron Hughes Wines. Focusing on rare bottlings, Bounty Hunter operates a wine bar, restaurant and retail shop in Napa, and is planning to open a four-story, 27,500-square foot food and wine emporium at the corner of First and Main, scheduled to debut in early 2018.

•Heaven Hill Brands is introducing Christian Brothers Apple, a new flavored extension to the brandy label. Building off of the success of Christian Brothers Honey and Peach, Christian Brothers Apple is 35% abv and retails around $11 a 750-ml. Apple-flavored spirits accounted for $350 million in sales across the U.S. spirits market last year, according to Nielsen.

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