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Innovation, Acquisitions Paying Off In Constellation’s Wine Portfolio

September 6, 2017

Last year, Constellation reloaded its domestic wine portfolio with two key acquisitions: the purchase of The Prisoner Wine Co. from Huneeus Vintners for $285 million and the addition of five brands from Charles Smith Wines for $120 million. Those two deals, along with some recent innovation activity, appear to be paying off for the upstate New York-based drinks giant.

Constellation’s acquisition of The Prisoner Wine Co. included the namesake Napa Valley brand, as well as associated labels Saldo, Cuttings, Blindfold and Thorn. Despite the mid-year transition to a new marketer, The Prisoner ($45 a 750-ml.) accelerate its pace last year, jumping 27% to 140,000 cases. Since 2013, the brand has expanded by 75%. That strong progress has carried over so far this year, Constellation tells SND. “The Prisoner continues to strengthen its leadership position among all super luxury priced red blends, with both velocity and distribution increasing,” says Michelle Perry, vice president of marketing for The Prisoner Wine Co.

Constellation’s move to acquire a number of brands from Charles Smith Wines has also borne fruit. Among them are Kung Fu Girl Riesling and The Velvet Devil Merlot, both sourced from Washington state. Kung Fu Girl ($12) has more than doubled in size since 2013, and last year was up 19% to 95,000 cases. Jon Guggino, vice president, global marketing for super-premium, ultra-premium and import wines at Constellation, says the brand is up 64% so far this year. The Velvet Devil ($12) has defied gravity in the Merlot segment, and has averaged 26% annual growth over the past three years, reaching 80,000 cases in 2016.

Two of Constellation’s own recent launches, Ravage and Tom Gore, are likewise gaining traction. Both are California brands retailing in the $10-$15 range. Ravage, including a Cabernet Sauvignon and Dark Red Blend, leapt from 10,000 cases in 2015, its launch year, to 160,000 cases last year. Tom Gore, which also debuted in 2015, is named for a second-generation Sonoma grape farmer and includes a Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Field Blend and Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Tom Gore followed up a solid performance in its launch year with 67% growth to 125,000 cases in 2016.—Daniel Marsteller & Carol Ward

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