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News Briefs for January 31, 2017

January 31, 2017

•A U.S. district judge from the court of Northern California has rejected Treasury Wine Estates’ (TWE) motion to dismiss a suit filed by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates over Treasury’s proposed use of “The Stag” name. In October, TWE sought to dismiss the trademark infringement lawsuit, which Ste. Michelle—parent company of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars—filed last fall alleging that the TWE label could mislead consumers into thinking the brand is associated with Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District, where TWE owns the Stags’ Leap Winery. TWE strongly denies the accusation, claiming that “imagery of the Stag has long been associated with the historic St. Huberts winery in Victoria, Australia,” where the wine is produced. Ste. Michelle released a statement following the ruling, saying, “as members of the Stags Leap District continue to convey to Treasury, this product represents a threat not only to the Stags Leap District but to all wineries and grape growers throughout the Napa Valley.”

•Australian wine exports to the U.S. rose by 3% to A$458 million ($347m) in 2016, according to Wine Australia, with the premium end leading the way. Exports above A$10 ($7.57) a liter were up by 23% to A$41 million ($31m). This strong performance led to a 9% increase in the average value of Aussie bottled wine exports, to A$3.95 ($2.99) a liter. The export growth is occurring amid a relatively weak Australian dollar. The Aussie dollar has been hovering around 75 U.S. cents in recent months—roughly 40% lower than five years ago, when the country’s wine exports to the U.S. bottomed out.

•Constellation’s Pacifico beer brand is launching in 12-ounce cans in the U.S. Rolling out this week, the new canned format will be available across California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Hawaii, Texas, Arizona and Colorado, line priced with the Mexican brand’s 12-ounce bottled 12-packs at around $14-$16 a 12-pack. The launch, which will be supported by 40 weeks of television advertising, follows Pacifico’s debut of a 24-ounce canned format early last year. According to Constellation, Pacifico grew depletions more than 17% in the U.S. in 2016, capping off five years of consecutive growth in the market.

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