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

News Briefs for February 13, 2018

February 13, 2018

•California’s wine grape crush was up by less than 0.5% in 2017, according to preliminary findings from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The state’s 2017 vintage totaled roughly 4.23 million tons, with red wine varieties down 1.6% on the year prior, to 2.24 million tons, and white wine varieties up 0.7% to 1.76 million tons. The average price for red varieties rose 4.6% last year to around $962 a ton, as the price for white varieties fell 2% to $587 a ton. By varietal, Chardonnay continued to lead in terms of volume, accounting for 14.5% of the total grape crush, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon at 14.2%. Other sizable varieties included Zinfandel (with an 8.6% share), French Colombard (7.9%), Pinot Noir (6.2%), Merlot (6%) and Pinot Gris (6%).

•Heaven Hill Brands has given its Burnett’s vodka brand a makeover. Upgrades include a taller, slimmer bottle with “Sir Robert Burnett” engraved across the top as well as an updated cap. Boldly colored, two-piece paper labels have replaced the original Burnett’s logo, and include such brand attributes as “gluten free” and “made in America.” Additionally, custom fruit illustrations were designed for the brand’s 34 flavored expressions. The redesigned packaging is rolling out this month. Burnett’s comprises 44% of Heaven Hill’s volume, making it the company’s top brand. In the U.S., Burnett’s was roughly flat last year at 2.9 million cases, according to Impact Databank.

•Ireland’s Connacht Distillery is set to launch its new Ballyhoo Irish whiskey in the U.S. A four-year-old grain whiskey finished in Port barrels, Ballyhoo (43% abv) will debut in March across New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, Illinois and Washington, D.C., retailing at $30 a 750-ml. Connacht’s other offerings include Conncullin Irish gin, Brothership Irish-American blended whiskey, Strawboys Irish vodka, Strawboys Irish poitin and Spade & Bushel 10-year-old single malt cask strength Irish whiskey.

•The Winebow Group has named master sommelier Ron Edwards director of wine education. Prior to joining Winebow, Edwards was founder and CEO of Bottle Rocket Wine and Culinary Image Consultants, organizing educational programs for professional and consumer groups across the U.S. In his new role, he’ll look to enhance The Winebow Group’s educational offerings both internally and externally, overseeing both the in-house education department and an adjunct community of wine and spirits educators.

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