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News Briefs for July 27, 2011

July 27, 2011

•Edwin H. Nielsen, the great-grandson of Bacardi founder Don Facundo Bacardí Massó, passed away July 24 in Spain at the age of 93. Nielsen became vice president of Bacardi Imports, U.S. in 1963 and was later promoted to president. He’s credited with expanding the company into international markets and helping Bacardi become the largest-selling rum in the world. Nielsen became a director when Bacardi Ltd. was formed from five operating companies in 1992, and he retired from Bacardi in 2001.

•Douro Valley Port producers are expecting smaller vineyard yields this year, following bouts of hail and extreme heat in the past two months. Effects of the heat were most pronounced in the Douro Superior region, with varietals like Tinta Barroca, Sousão and Touriga Francesa enduring the most damage. Despite the smaller yields, Douro producers believe the 2011 crop’s quality won’t be affected.

•Argentina’s Bodega DiamAndes is launching a trio of single varietal, Mendoza-sourced wines in the U.S. this September. Created by Bordeaux’s Bonnie family, the range features a 2010 Malbec (80,000 bottles), Chardonnay (15,000 bottles) and Viognier (5,000 bottles), each priced at $20 a 750-ml. CVGB Group-Dourthe has been named U.S. importer for all three. DiamAndes launched its first label—a 2007 Gran Reserva Malbec-Cabernet blend—in the U.S. at the beginning of this year.

•MillerCoors will pull its MGD 64 Lemonade off shelves after just three months on the market.The product was launched in May and was supposed to run through Labor Day. Targeted at young female drinkers, MGD 64 Lemonade was intended to buttress the brewer’s presence in low-calorie beer—but it hasn’t received the response MillerCoors was hoping for. “Winning in beer requires testing the bounds of the market with innovation,” MillerCoors said in a statement. “With that commitment, however, comes a recognition that not every innovation will succeed.” The brewer will buy back all outstanding cases from distributors and cover destruction costs up to $2.50 a case.

•Vintage Wine Estates has named Jim Sweeney as executive vice president, sales. Sweeney will oversee a portfolio that includes Cosentino Winery, Girard, Sonoma Coast Vineyards, Windsor Sonoma, Grove Street, Stone Fly and Fire Station, as well as the estate’s own line of wines. Sweeney, previously a founding partner of Huneeus Vintners, has also had industry roles as director of sales for Franciscan Estates and, later, senior vice president, sales, for Icon Estates.

•Hard cider producer Green Mountain Beverage will change its name to Vermont Hard Cider Company, LLC effective August 1. According to company president and CEO Bret Williams, the new name “better reflects who we are and what we do.” Headquartered in Middlebury, VT, Vermont Hard Cider is best known for its flagship Woodchuck Hard Cider brand, which has won 16 Impact Hot Brand Awards in its 20-year history. In 2010, Woodchuck Hard Cider grew 17% by volume in the U.S. to more than 1.5 million cases, according to Impact Databank. The company’s Strongbow brand has also attained Hot Brand status, rising 12% to 685,000 cases last year.

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