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

News Briefs for November 3, 2017

November 3, 2017

•Workers for New York wholesaler Empire Merchants have begun a strike, and the company says that “As a result, we are working on a modified basis and are unable to take orders at this time.” On November 1, the distributor reached agreements for new contracts with the Teamsters Local 917 and Local 2-D, UFCW Distillers, Wine and Allied Workers Union. But members of Wine, Liquor and Distillers Workers Union, Local 1-D, UFCW voted down their proposed new contract and are now on strike. The Local 917 and Local 2-D members at Empire Merchants are honoring Local 1-D’s picket lines. Empire says it will continue to provide updates on the situation. With operations in both metro and upstate New York, Empire is the fifth-largest spirits and wine wholesaler nationwide, with projected 2017 revenues of $1.9 billion, according to Shanken’s Impact Newsletter.

•Constellation’s The Prisoner Wine Company has announced plans to open its first tasting room in Napa Valley next summer. The new space—which is set to replace Constellation’s tasting room for its Franciscan brand—will sell all five brands in the portfolio, including The Prisoner, Blindfold, Saldo, Cuttings and Thorn. Winery-only labels and visitor experiences will also be offered. Constellation Brands acquired The Prisoner Wine Company from Huneeus Vintners in April 2016 for $285 million. The Prisoner’s volume grew 27% to 140,000 cases last year, according to Impact Databank.

•Healdsburg, California-based Sonoma Cider has unveiled Ahoy Wines, a new brand of premium canned wines. The Ahoy portfolio includes a red, white and sparkling rosé, each available in a four-pack of 8.4-ounce cans ($13.99 each). The lineup will be sold at select retail outlets throughout the West Coast, as well as the Sonoma Cider taproom. Established in 2013 by veteran cidermaster and winemaker David Cordtz and his son Robert, the company also produces a namesake organic hard cider range including four year-round labels—The Hatchet apple cider, The Pitchfork pear cider, a sarsaparilla- and vanilla-infused cider known as The Washboard and a Bourbon-flavored cider called The Anvil.

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