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

News Briefs for February 10, 2016

February 10, 2016

•Japan’s Asahi has lined up a $2.9 billion offer for the Peroni and Grolsch beer brands that have been put up for sale by AB InBev to help ease regulatory approval for its pending $107 billion acquisition of SABMiller. AB InBev has agreed to a period of exclusive consultations with Asahi toward a potential deal, the acceptance of which will be conditional on the successful closing of ABI’s SABMiller purchase.

•Rioja shipments hit a new record in 2015, despite a down year in the U.S. market following a period of significant growth. Overall, Rioja’s global volume rose 1.2% to 11.8 million nine-liter cases last year (sales value advanced 5.3%), with both its domestic and export segments growing. In the U.S., however, shipments slipped 6% to 1.1 million cases, marking the second straight year of decline. From 2009-2013, Rioja exports to the U.S. had grown by roughly 75%.

•In March, Louisville’s Michter’s Distillery will launch a new bottling of its 10-year Single Barrel Rye, the product’s first release since 2014. Master distiller Willie Pratt opted not to bottle any of his older rye stocks in 2015, despite the fact that they were already more than 10 years old, as he felt they required another year of maturation. Michter’s 10-year Single Barrel Rye is rolling out at a suggested retail price of $150 a 750-ml.

•Ste. Michelle Wine Estates has named David Prescott as senior director of national chain accounts. Based in Clearwater, Florida, Prescott will report to Ste. Michelle’s vice president of retail chain sales, John Lankas. Prescott, who earlier in his career had directed regional chain sales for Ste. Michelle, was previously director of national accounts for Sazerac before returning to the Washington-based winemaker earlier this year.

•Republic National Distributing Co. (RNDC) has named Pape Swanson state executive vice president for the Texas market, a new leadership position within the company, effective immediately. Swanson joined RNDC in 2013 as vice president on the supplier business development team, leading supplier portfolios in 11 states. Prior to that he spent 12 years at Red Bull North America. Swanson will report directly to RNDC Southwest region president Jay Johnson.

•Christian Wylie, formerly commercial director for Chile’s Carolina Wine Brands, has been named general manager of Uruguay’s Bodega Garzón, a boutique winery owned by energy magnate and vintner Alejandro Bulgheroni. Wylie will handle Garzón’s operations, marketing, sales, hospitality and tourism. Bodega Garzón focuses primarily on estate-grown wines made from Tannat, Uruguay’s national grape.

•Excelsior Wines’ Little Black Dress has appointed Margaret Leonardi as winemaker. Leonardi was previously winemaker for several Fetzer Vineyard brands. The Little Black Wines portfolio includes Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Divalicious Pink Pinot, Divalicious Red, Merlot, Moscato, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir. The brand sells around 130,000 cases in the U.S. annually.

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