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

News Briefs for July 28, 2011

July 28, 2011

•Restaurant and bar chain Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. has reported a 26.4% revenue increase for its second quarter ended June 26, to $184.1 million, as company-owned restaurant sales grew more than 27% to $167.9 million. Although net earnings rose 16.4% to $10.7 million for the quarter, the amount was affected by higher costs and fell short of analysts’ expectations, resulting in a slight drop in stock. Buffalo Wild Wings currently holds 277 company-owned restaurants across the U.S., in addition to nearly 500 franchised outposts. According to president and CEO Sally Smith, expansion remains high on the company’s agenda, with 29 company-owned restaurants in the U.S., three in Canada and 37 franchised locations expected to open in the second half of 2011.

•According to a new Gallup poll, wine now nearly ties beer as the top beverage alcohol choice of U.S. drinkers. Gallup found that 35% of drinkers in the U.S. said wine was their top beverage alcohol choice, while 36% cited beer and 23% named spirits. That marked only the second time in the last 10 years that wine has matched beer in Gallup’s findings. The 36% tally for beer was equal to its lowest number recorded since the poll was initiated in 1992. Preference for beer fell most among young adults, dropping from 51% in 2010 to 39% this year.

•Diageo has reached a $16 million settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), in regard to charges of bribery against its subsidiaries in South Korea, India and Thailand. The SEC found that those Diageo units made improper payments to government officials for more than six years, including approximately $86,000 to a South Korean customs agent, $600,000 to a Thai government official and more than $1.7 million to hundreds of government officials in India. Diageo has agreed to pay a financial penalty of $3 million, as well as roughly $13 million in disgorgement fees and prejudgment interest. The SEC’s case against Diageo has been ongoing since 2007, when Diageo temporarily lost its South Korean import license following charges of customs fraud.

•Enrique Forner, founder of Rioja’s Marqués de Cáceres, has died at the age of 86. Forner was considered a revolutionary winemaker in Rioja. He led the switch from traditional barrel-aging to stainless steel tanks, reduced aging time and also used more new oak. Under Forner’s guidance, Marqués de Cáceres became one of the most widely distributed and well-known international brands from Rioja—its wines are now sold in 120 countries. In 2010, the winery depleted 157,000 cases in the U.S., where it’s imported by Vineyard Brands, according to Impact Databank.

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