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Castello di Volpaia’s Prelius Brand Driving Growth In The On-Premise

December 28, 2017

Although Tuscan winemaker Castello di Volpaia is widely recognized for its portfolio of upscale Chianti Classico labels, in recent years the winery has spread its wings with Prelius, a larger-volume label produced in the coastal Maremma Toscana DOC. The Prelius lineup includes a 100% Vermentino and a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, both certified organic and priced at $16 a 750-ml. Prelius is aimed at on-premise accounts—its Cabernet Sauvignon is 84% on-premise—with a target by-the-glass price point of $10.

Prelius’ production levels nearly double those of Volpaia’s Chianti Classico–based labels. Between 80,000 and 100,000 bottles of Prelius are produced annually, with Cabernet Sauvignon accounting for 80% of total volume. “The Cabernet Sauvignon is a bridge that connects the public with Prelius,” says third-generation Volpaia family member Federica Mascheroni Stianti. “Everybody knows the grape, but this is an expression with an Italian personality.” Last year, 60,000 bottles of Prelius were distributed to 45 states and Washington, D.C., by Volpaia’s U.S. importer, Wilson Daniels, which has served in that role since 2007. Volpaia is currently gearing up to launch its third Prelius label—a red blend—which is slated for release next year.

The remainder of Volpaia’s portfolio consists of organically grown luxury offerings sourced from estate vineyards within the village of Castello di Volpaia, located about two hours north of Maremma in the heart of the Chianti Classico DOCG. The flagship Chianti Classico ($21 a 750-ml.) is the key driver, while Chianti Classico Riserva ($29) and a number of single-vineyard wines—Coltassala ($70), Balifico ($70) and Il Puro ($151)—round out the lineup.

Though last year’s harvest was difficult, resulting in a 30% decline in production, Volpaia generally produces roughly 250,000 to 300,000 bottles annually, 10% of which are IGT as opposed to DOCG. Across all of Volpaia’s wines sold in the U.S., depletions were up 37% in the 12 months through September, and Wilson Daniels expects that growth to continue into 2018. Looking toward the new year, Mascheroni Stanti believes Volpaia’s dedication to certified-organic winemaking will continue to pay dividends, and she expects the launch of the new Prelius red blend to drive further progress. —Julia Higgins 

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