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Sprinting Barefoot Leads Blue Chip Wines’ Awesome Growth While Cavit Stands Tall As Lone Import

October 13, 2011

Impact awards “Blue Chip Brand” status to products that have achieved sustained growth, but the latest crop of wine honorees is also notable for some remarkably rapid progress. Fully half of wine’s 14 Blue Chip Brands averaged double-digit annual growth from 2000-2010. E&J Gallo’s Barefoot Cellars led the way with a phenomenal 45% growth rate over the past decade. Other double-digit gainers include Palm Bay’s Cavit, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Bogle, Diageo’s Sterling Vintners, J Lohr Estates and Kendall-Jackson’s La Crema.

Wine brands qualify for Blue Chip status by selling at least 500,000 cases in 2010 while generating at least $25 million in gross margin, and achieving at least 10 years of consecutive volume growth or average annual growth of at least 3% from 2000-2010 with at least eight yearly increases over the past 10 years.

Not surprisingly, the list was dominated by California. Trinchero’s Sutter Home was the biggest-volume Blue Chip wine brand, and Constellation’s Robert Mondavi Private Selection, Clos du Bois and Estancia also earned Blue Chip honors, as did fellow California wines Korbel and Rodney Strong. All but three Blue Chip wine brands hail from the Golden State.

However, Washington—and specifically Ste Michelle Wine Estates—made its presence felt, with Columbia Crest joining portfoliomate Chateau Ste. Michelle on the list. And while there was only one Blue Chip import—Cavit—its remarkable rise has transformed the Italian brand into a household name. In 2000, with sales at around 800,000 cases, Cavit wasn’t among the U.S. market’s top five Italian wines. Now, it’s far and away the category leader, selling nearly 3.5 million cases last year. Like its fellow Blue Chip Brands, Cavit has come a very long way over the past decade—and has plenty of upside left. A full analysis and report on the spirits, wine and beer Blue Chip Brands will appear in Impact’s November 1 issue.

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