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Constellation Finds Growth At Higher End With Franciscan

February 22, 2012

Like most high-end wine brands, Constellation’s Franciscan label took a hit during the worst of the recession, falling by 10% in 2009. But the brand rebounded slightly in 2010, and last year grew by more than 28% to 295,000 cases.

Franciscan’s consumer demographic comprises what brand manager Michelle Perry describes as the “luxury wine enthusiast who is 45 and over, and wine knowledgeable.”

A key driver behind the brand’s recent success has been the Franciscan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($26.99 a 750-ml.), part of the brand’s core Napa Valley range. Franciscan’s Napa Valley tier also includes a Sauvignon Blanc ($16.99), Chardonnay ($17.99) and Merlot ($20.99).

In addition to the core range, Franciscan also features Prestige offerings, which include the Cuvée Sauvage Chardonnay ($40) and Magnificat ($50), a Meritage. Sourced from the Carneros region, the Chardonnay is produced with traditional Burgundian techniques, while the Magnificat Meritage is a Cabernet-based wine sourced from over 200 small lots, designed to showcase the winery’s “finest Bordeaux blend.”

Meanwhile, Franciscan has made significant inroads in the on-premise. “It has one of the stronger on-premise percentages in our portfolio,” says Perry, adding that the Napa Valley Cabernet, Chardonnay and Merlot are key labels for the on-premise. “While (Franciscan’s) off-premise business is currently outpacing its on-premise growth, the brand’s on-premise sales are growing by double digits as well,” Perry adds.

Franciscan also hopes to expand its portfolio in the near future with a Napa Valley red and white blend, priced within the $20-$25 range.

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