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

News Briefs for February 28, 2012

February 28, 2012

•Republic National Distributing Company (RNDC) has expanded the roles of two region presidents. Tom White, region president of RNDC Florida, Maryland and Washington, D.C., will now see his territory grow to include Virginia and South Carolina as well. Jay Johnson, region president of RNDC Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, will add RNDC Colorado and National Distributing Company-New Mexico to his responsibilities. Both White and Johnson have been with RNDC for more than a decade. They report to the company’s executive vice president, sales and marketing, Bob Hendrickson. RNDC is the second-largest wine and spirits wholesaler in the U.S., with operations in 18 states and Washington, D.C. and estimated 2011 revenues of over $4.5 billion.

•Minnesota craft brewer Summit Brewing Co. has announced a $6 million expansion plan. The project, which is slated to start in 2014 and take six to eight months, will expand Summit’s production, fermentation, storage and packaging facilities, increasing capacity from 135,000 barrels (1.8 million 2.25-gallon cases) to 260,000-275,000 barrels (3.6-3.8 million cases). Summit surpassed the 100,000-barrel mark last December, on a 10% annual growth rate. Founded in St. Paul in 1986 and currently available in 16 states, Summit produces 11 varieties of premium craft beer—including six year-round labels, four seasonals and the limited release Unchained Series. The brewery recently unveiled its latest offering in the Unchained lineup, Dunkel Weizen, which will be available on tap next week and in bottles the week of March 19.

•Houston-based SaveOnBrew.com, a beer price search engine, has launched a mobile version for smartphone users. The mobile site provides searching ability by zip code or address to help consumers find beer deals in their area. Users can also search by brand, or filter by craft or import beers. The site also displays reviews, retail pricing, packaging images and information on how long deals last. Founded in 2010, SaveOnBrew.com features on average between 250,000 and 300,000 deals at any given time, from about 50,000 retailers across the U.S.

•Chef and restaurateur Marc Vetri opened Alla Spina, his new Italian gastropub, in Philadelphia last night. The food menu focuses on Italian bar fare, including fried food options and paninis, while the beverage list highlights rare Italian craft beers as well as other imported and domestic brews, available both on draft and in bottles. The eatery also offers a few wines by the glass, beer-based cocktails, classic cocktails and various spirits. Alla Spina is Vetri’s fourth restaurant; he also owns and operates Italian restaurants Vetri, Osteria and Amis, all located in Philadelphia.

•Jean-George Vongerichten has created a new cocktail menu for his New York City restaurant Perry St. The new drinks highlight ingredients from Vongerichten’s native Alsace, such as Suze, a distillation of bitter gentian roots combined with crème de cassis and tonic water, and bitter Picon, which is mixed with Kronenbourg 1664 beer and a homemade lemon simple syrup. The menu also includes updated variations on classic cocktails like the Gin and Tonic and the Salty Dog, and each cocktail is served with hand-carved spherical ice. Vongerichten announced the new bar creations on his blog on Friday (jeangeorges.blogspot.com/2012/02/new-bar-menu-at-perry-st.html).

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