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Sizzling Kim Crawford Looks To Expand Beyond Sauvignon Blanc

December 13, 2017

Constellation’s Kim Crawford—the third-largest above-$14 wine brand in the U.S.—has recorded another year of torrid growth, with total production rising to about 1.6 million cases for 2017. In the U.S. market, the brand is on pace to rise 13% to 1.3 million cases this year, according to Impact Databank. The strong growth is being driven largely by Kim Crawford’s core Sauvignon Blanc ($18 a 750-ml.), whose production is currently at about 1.2 million cases.

While Sauvignon Blanc continues to lead the way, Constellation is also looking to broaden Kim Crawford’s horizons with an increasing focus on other expressions, among them a rosé that launched earlier this year. “We’d been making rosé locally and selling domestically in New Zealand for quite a few years,” says Kim Crawford winemaker Anthony Walkenhorst. “Given the current popularity of rosé expressions, we saw an opportunity to launch it in North America.” Kim Crawford is producing around 30,000 cases of rosé, and it’s now part of a core range that also includes Pinot Noir ($19), Chardonnay ($17), and Pinot Gris ($17).

Kim Crawford has also expanded its lineup at the higher end with its Small Parcels collection ($26-$33), a range of five wines that are more area-specific than the core range. “The Small Parcels wines have the Kim Crawford name, so they’re recognizable, but they offer an option for people to trade up,” Walkenhorst says. The Small Parcels Spitfire Sauvignon Blanc is the largest of the line at 10,500 cases, while Wild Grace Chardonnay is second at 2,200 cases. Favourite Homestead Pinot Gris, Rise and Shine Pinot Noir and a Fizz Methode Traditionelle sparkler round out the range.

Moving forward, Walkenhorst sees the greatest growth potential in rosé and Chardonnay. “We’ve got the fruit and sourcing to be able to increase the size of those,” he says. “Chardonnay and rosé are both wines that suit our climate, and people are drawn to them.” But Pinot Noir figures to play a significant role as well, with Kim Crawford recently unveiling a new winery in the Central Otago region that’s dedicated to red varietals. —Julia Higgins

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