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News Briefs for August 3, 2016

August 3, 2016

•O’Neill Vintners & Distillers has acquired fellow California winery Robert Hall, based in Paso Robles. The deal includes the Robert Hall production facilities, hospitality center, inventory, vineyards and brands. Known for Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Rhône varietals, the Robert Hall brand has been marketed nationally by Bronco Wine Co. and has seen solid growth lately, rising from 50,000 cases in 2012 to 70,000 cases last year, according to Impact Databank. The move offers increased exposure to California’s Central Coast region for O’Neill, whose portfolio includes the Line 39, Harken, Redtree, Austerity and Allegro brands among others.

•Wirtz Beverage Canada has joined Breakthru Beverage Group and begun operating as Breakthru Beverage Canada. The Canada unit, which is the national broker for Diageo, as well as the Piper and Charles Heidsieck portfolios, is based in Toronto and led by senior vice president John Donahue. Breakthru, which has annual sales of more than $6 billion, was formed through the merger of Wirtz Beverage and Charmer Sunbelt Group.

•Brown-Forman is extending Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel with a new Personal Collection program under which consumers can purchase their own customized barrel of whiskey. Buyers can have the barrel selected for them by the master distiller, receive samples based on flavor profiles or travel to the distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee and select their barrel. Barrels destined for the Personal Collection have been exposed to the most extreme temperatures, which creates bolder flavor and variance from barrel to barrel, Brown-Forman says. Prices start at around $10,000 a barrel, with a custom barrelhead, certificate, luxury decanter and glassware, as well as a personalized Jack Daniel’s bottle included.

•Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky from South Africa, which launched in three states in the U.S. late last year, has seen its distribution recently expanded to 17 states by its U.S. importer, TD Artisan Spirits. TD, a collaboration between Terlato Wines and South Africa’s Distell Group, expects to take the brand national within a year. The new markets include California, Las Vegas, Texas and Wisconsin. Bain’s, distilled solely from corn to 43% abv and retailing at $35 for its single expression, is the only whisky produced commercially on the entire African continent for export. It carries no age statement, but Master Distiller Andy Watts said its liquid is an average of five years old. Volume in the U.S. is pegged at 10,000 cases for this year.

•Don Sebastiani & Sons has appointed Jason Edwards director of marketing. Edwards, who was most recently marketing director for Huneeus Vintners, will oversee marketing for Don & Sons’ wine brands and three soon-to-be-released Tequilas, as well as the company’s forays outside beverage alcohol, including snack products and sparkling water.

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