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News Briefs for February 7, 2012

February 7, 2012

•Sonoma-based Cecchetti Wine Company posted a 31% increase in sales to 268,000 cases last year, marking the fourth consecutive year of double-digit growth for the group. Growth was led by Cecchetti’s Line 39 brand, which rose 31% to 85,000 cases, while portfoliomate Redtree—named an Impact “Hot Prospect” from 2008-2010—grew 11% to 152,000 cases. Priced in the $10 range, both labels have demonstrated strong sales within the national and regional chain store sector, including Beverages & More, Lucky, SaveMart, Safeway, Vons and Whole Foods, among others. Cecchetti’s latest addition, on-premise-only label Backhouse, depleted 31,000 cases last year after launching just last March. Established five years ago by industry veteran Roy Cecchetti, Cecchetti Wine Company expects to reach 370,000 cases this year.

•U.S. sales of imported rosé wines in the $12-and-above range grew 26.1% by value and 14.4% by volume in the 52-week period ending January 7, according to Nielsen. Total retail table wine sales grew by 3.7% and 2.5% by value and volume, respectively, in the same period. The average price per bottle within the imported rosé category increased to $15.32 in 2011, compared to just over $13 in 2009.

•The Mark Wine Group, which specializes in connecting small, independent wine producers with national restaurant and hotel accounts, has reported sales of more than 90,000 cases for 2011. Founded by company president Mark Gmur five years ago, the Texas-based group’s first partner was Boisset Family Estates, which remains The Mark Wine Group’s largest supplier today. The company currently has a portfolio of more than a dozen suppliers and nearly 100 wineries from around the world, as well as over 15,000 points of distribution in corporate chains. Prior to establishing The Mark Wine Group, Gmur had worked as beverage director for both the Waldorf Astoria and Hilton Waikoloa Village.

•Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group plans to open a new Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse unit in Chicago. The new venue will be on the site of old Esquire Theatre in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood, and it’s slated to open in December. The company said it would seek to retain the theatre’s key architectural features. At 23,000 square feet, the restaurant will be one of Chicago’s largest steakhouses. Dallas-based Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group owns and operates 31 restaurants across the country, including Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House, Del Frisco’s Grille and Sullivan’s Steakhouse. The Chicago venue will be the tenth Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House, adding to locations in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Las Vegas, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Charlotte and Denver. Del Frisco’s already operates several of its Sullivan’s Steakhouse branches in metro Chicago.

•Celebrity chef and restaurateur Tom Colicchio is opening a new restaurant and inn called Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton, Long Island. The venue includes a main house and four cottages. The restaurant will have 85 seats and an Italian-inspired contemporary American menu focused on locally grown produce. Topping Rose House is slated to open by summer and will operate year-round. Colicchio founded and currently owns the Craft brand of restaurants, Colicchio & Sons and Riverpark. He opened Gramercy Tavern with Danny Meyer in 1994 but sold his interest in 2006.

•Whisky Advocate has named Compass Box Great King Street (43%-abv, $45 a bottle) as its Blended/Blended Malt Whisky of the Year. Individual winners from the 18th annual installment of the Whisky Advocate Awards are being unveiled one day at a time through February 13 at WhiskyAdvocateBlog.com, and will also be featured in the magazine’s upcoming Spring edition, due out March 1.

•Tequila Partida has promoted from within to fill its top sales post, naming former Western divisional sales director Scott Northeimer as director of sales. Northeimer’s appointment follows the retirement of former Partida executive vice president and COO Kevin Moodie. “Scott oversaw astounding growth in Southern California sales (up 70%) in 2011, as well as double-digit increases in all of his other markets,” noted Partida chairman and CEO J. Gary Shansby.

•Heineken USA has named Brian Fried regional vice president sales, western region. Fried will manage relationships with distributors and regional accounts, as well as provide sales strategies. He will report to senior vice president of sales Scott Blazek. Fried has been at Heineken USA since 2004, most recently serving as director of business development. He will continue to be based in Long Beach, California.

•The James Beard Foundation has named Charlie Trotter as its Humanitarian of the Year for his charitable work with the nonprofit Charlie Trotter Culinary Education Foundation, which he founded in 1999 and through which he has raised $3 million for culinary education. Trotter, who is preparing to close his eponymous Chicago restaurant at the end of August to return to school, has received 10 James Beard Foundation honors prior to this most recent award—including Outstanding Chef, Outstanding Restaurant and Outstanding Service.

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