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News Briefs for July 18, 2011

July 18, 2011

•South African drinks group KWV announced that CEO Thys Loubser has resigned, effective immediately, following an internal company restructuring. André van der Veen has been named acting CEO. Van der Veen is a member of the board and a senior executive at investment group HCI, which is KWV’s largest shareholder. Loubser had been CEO since January 2007. U.S. importer Opici Wines launched KWV’s Café Culture label—a Pinotage wine with a mocha/coffee flavor profile—in the U.S. in early May.

Tenth & Blake, the MillerCoors craft beer unit, has begun testing Blue Moon Vintage Blonde Ale, a wheat beer produced with Chardonnay grape juice, in five markets. Tenth & Blake president Tom Cardella told Shanken News Daily that Vintage Blonde, which is packaged in 750-ml. bottles, is expected to be one in a “specialty series of higher-alcohol beers” marketed under the Blue Moon banner. Cardella added that Blue Moon Grand Cru, a limited-edition small-batch beer first launched in 2009 and retailing at around $10 to $11 a 750-ml. bottle, has received favorable consumer response. Tenth & Blake describes Vintage Blonde—which is being tested now through mid-September in Seattle, Colorado Springs, Chicago, Rochester and northern New Jersey—as “sessionable,” meaning that its profile is well-suited for several servings in a single occasion. The product is being sold in a limited number of grocery stores, liquor stores and about 20 on-premise accounts.

•D.G. Yuengling and Son Inc. has partnered with RL Lipton Distributing Co. and House of LaRose to introduce the Yuengling brand in Ohio this fall. Youngstown-based RL Lipton covers Ohio’s Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana and Ashtabula counties, while House of LaRose focuses on Greater Cleveland and Akron. Both distributors are part of the Anheuser-Busch InBev network. In 2010, Yuengling’s flagship Traditional Lager grew 6% to 25 million (2.25-gallon) cases, while its Light Lager surged nearly 20% to 1.7 million cases.

•The Loire Valley’s 2011 harvest is expected to be one of the earliest on record, according to trade group Vins de Loire. That follows similar trends in Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne, as warm and dry weather conditions have led to early ripening across France. Loire Valley harvests are expected to begin around the end of August in the Muscadet, Nantes, Anjou, Touraine and Saumur regions.

•Terry Lanni, former chairman and CEO of MGM Mirage (now MGM Resorts International), died July 14th at his home in Pasadena, California. He was 68. Lanni, who retired in 2008, helped transform MGM into the biggest casino operator in Las Vegas, with properties including the Bellagio, Mandalay Bay and MGM Grand, as well as Luxor, Excalibur and Monte Carlo. He also spearheaded the creation of CityCenter—the $8.5 billion, 67-acre hotel, casino, retail and residential complex located on the Strip between the Monte Carlo and Bellagio—which opened on New Year’s Eve 2009-2010.

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