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

News Briefs for March 24, 2017

March 24, 2017

•E.&J. Gallo, the world’s largest family-owned wine company, continues to see premium wine as the future. Yesterday, the company announced that it has acquired prestigious Napa Valley vineyard Stagecoach, located in the Atlas Peak AVA, for an undisclosed sum. Wine Spectator has more on the Stagecoach purchase and what it means for Gallo’s premium wine stable moving forward.

•The Florida senate has approved a measure, known as the “Whiskey and Wheaties Bill” (SB 106), which would allow grocery stores, big-box retailers and other accounts to sell liquor alongside other consumer products. Under current Florida law, liquor must be sold in an adjacent store, separated by a wall. The bill is now awaiting approval by the House. If passed, Florida would be the 28th state to allow liquor to be sold alongside wine and beer in groceries.

•The Wine Group is introducing a new brand, AVA Grace Vineyards, which includes a Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Red Blend and Merlot retailing at around $12 a bottle. Created by winemaker Andrea Beltran, the AVA Grace wines are sourced from California and around the world. The Wine Group says the new brand is intended to offer balanced, fruit-forward, quality wines at an affordable price point.

•Hospitality company SBE has announced plans to merge with nightlife and restaurant firm Hakkasan Group. SBE operates the SLS, Delano and Mondrian hotel brands, among others, as well as a variety of nightlife and restaurant assets. Hakkasan Group, owned by Abu Dhabi-based investment firm Alliance International Investments, is known for its Hakkasan restaurant chain and nightclub and nightlife/daylife brands 1 Oak, Wet Republic, Omnia and Jewel, among other holdings. The merger is expected to close in 60 days.

•Breakthru Beverage Group has announced changes in the leadership of its United Division, which is dedicated to the Diageo and Moët Hennessy portfolios. Effective March 23, Matt Wind will become vice president, business development for United Division Diageo. Wind was previously senior vice president, sales and marketing, at Breakthru Illinois. Meanwhile, Cristian Yanez, formerly vice president, trade marketing for Moët Hennessy brands, will become vice president, business development, United Division Moët Hennessy. In their new roles, Wind and Yanez will oversee sales and marketing for Breakthru’s Diageo and Moët Hennessy divisions, respectively.

•Donald J. “Buddy” Romano, who with his late brother Michael helped build Illinois-based Romano Bros. Beverage Co. into a leading wine and spirits wholesaler, has died at the age of 88. Both Buddy and Michael, who died in 1998, served in the U.S. military and subsequently played football at Notre Dame before joining the family business. Founded before Prohibition, Romano Bros. eventually became one of the top distributors nationwide for E.&J. Gallo. By the time the company was acquired by Southern Wine & Spirits (now Southern Glazer’s) in 2002, it had annual revenues of around $500 million.


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