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News Briefs for March 15, 2012

March 15, 2012

•The Craft Brew Alliance reported net sales of $149.2 million for the full year ended December 31, 2011, up 13% from $131.7 million in the year earlier. The sales growth was attributed to increased shipments to wholesalers, a decrease in master distributor fees and an increase in revenue from restaurants and pubs following the group’s addition of Hawaii’s Kona Brewing Co. in 2010. Depletions grew 7% over the year, and the company reported total shipments of 673,000 barrels (or 9.3 million 2.25-gallon cases), an 11% increase from 2010. The Craft Brew Alliance projects sales growth of about 10%-12% in 2012. Besides Kona, its other brands include Redhook and Widmer Bros.

•Healdsburg, California-based Wilson Artisan Wineries has acquired Dry Creek winery Pezzi King Vineyards, according to local reports. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but the 137-acre Pezzi King estate, which was put on the market in 2009, was listed for $11.25 million. Wilson plans to retain the Pezzi King name, winemaker Chris Barrett and the rest of the vineyard’s employees, as well as the Healdsburg tasting room. Pezzi King produces about 8,000 cases annually with a portfolio that includes Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Wilson Artisan Wineries now has seven wineries in its portfolio, with total production reaching more than 50,000 cases annually.

Beam Inc.’s newly acquired Cooley Distillery has increased U.S. case shipments of its Kilbeggan blended Irish whiskey brand in time for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. According to Beam, the most recent Kilbeggan shipment marks the largest single order for the Irish distillery, as well as a twenty-fold increase in the number of cases Cooley typically exports to the U.S. over the same seasonal period. The shipments will be distributed to 28 states, including New York, California, Illinois, Maryland, Kentucky, Texas, Nevada, Hawaii and Washington, D.C., before extending nationwide later in the spring. Purchased by Beam late last year for $95 million, Cooley sells around 250,000 cases globally—including the Connemara, Tyrconnell and Greenore brands, as well as private label products and bulk sales—but has so far had only a limited presence in the U.S.

•Chef and restaurateur Michael White and his Altamarea restaurant group have announced plans to open a new restaurant called The Butterfly in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood. Although White is known primarily for his Italian cooking, The Butterfly will serve the cuisine of Wisconsin, his home state, including Midwestern comfort foods like prime rib and fried cheese curds. The eatery will be styled after a mid-20th century supper club and cocktail bar, with a menu of classic cocktails, as well as a few modern concoctions. An opening date for The Butterfly, which will feature just 17 tables and a 14-seat bar, has not yet been set.

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