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California’s O’Neill Vintners & Distillers Sees Line 39 Drive Double-Digit Gains

September 21, 2018

Known as a large contract producer of wine and spirits, California’s O’Neill Vintners & Distillers has been building its branded portfolio in recent years, led by the Line 39 label, an Impact “Hot Brand” that topped 400,000 cases last year. Founder and CEO Jeff O’Neill tells SND that the company plans to develop new brands and focus on higher price points looking ahead.

Line 39 has roughly doubled in size since 2015, and is projected to sell just over a half-million cases this year, O’Neill says. The brand retails from $8-$11 a 750-ml. and sources grapes from throughout California. O’Neill adds that the company initially struggled to grow Line 39 when it acquired the brand in 2013, but learned from the process and is now eager to replicate its success with more wines aimed at the national market.

Among O’Neill’s other labels is Harken, a barrel-fermented Chardonnay retailing in the $14 segment. This year the brand is up over 200% thus far, according to O’Neill, and is projected to reach 60,000 cases. “Harken has all of the bold, buttery Chardonnay flavors—all of the bells and whistles that people want from that style of wine,” he says. Retailing at $20 is O’Neill’s latest offering, Exitus, a Bourbon-barrel-aged red blend that has been well-received in the early-going and will roll out nationally next year.

Going forward, O’Neill Vintners plans to release more wines in the $15-$20 area, with a focus on the Paso Robles AVA. “We think Paso Robles is one of those unique places that can continue to not only grow in volume, but consistently over-deliver on varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah at $15-$20,” says O’Neill.

In August, O’Neill named Campari America veteran Christine Moll as vice president of marketing, with an eye toward turning up the volume on the company’s branded portfolio. At Campari, Moll helped build the Espolòn brand into one of the market’s fastest-rising Tequilas.—Shane English

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