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News Briefs for April 12, 2012

April 12, 2012

•As reported by Shanken News Daily January 19, Constellation Brands’ Svedka vodka will see a renewed TV push this spring, launching two new ads featuring its SVEDKA_Grl robotic icon. It’s now been announced that the ads will begin rolling April 16, appearing on Bravo, VH1, Comedy Central, FX, Oxygen and E!, among other major cable networks and select movie theaters. The spots were created by animation houses BUF and Laundry!, and music video director Melina Matsoukas. The SVEDKA_Grl positioning has been long-running for the accessibly priced Swedish vodka, serving as its core consumer message since 2005. Marina Hahn, senior vice president of marketing for the brand, told SND earlier this year that above-the-line spending remains a priority given continuing cutthroat pricing conditions in the $10-$15 vodka category in which Svedka plays.

•The McWilliams family—owner of the Russian River Valley’s Arista Winery—has acquired Martinelli Road Winery, also in the Russian River Valley, for an undisclosed sum. Martinelli Road adds five acres of old-vine Zinfandel, 10 acres of Chardonnay and three acres of Pinot Noir to the family’s existing 36 acres of estate vineyards. The McWilliams family plans to produce estate-designated Zinfandel, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay at Martinelli, and will continue selling Zinfandel grapes to Sonoma’s Carlisle Winery, which has produced a vineyard-designate from the property since 2009. Martinelli Road—formerly owned by Joe Martinelli—was previously on the market for a reported asking price of $1.6 million, according to Wine Spectator.

Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) is said to be the lead suitor in a race to acquire Dominican brewer Cervecería Nacional Dominicana SA (CND), makers of the Presidente beer brand, having reportedly outbid both Heineken and SABMiller. Media reports have estimated the potential transaction at around $2.5 billion. Currently 84%-owned by conglomerate Grupo Leon Jimenes, CND’s portfolio includes core brand Presidente—which has a distribution footprint throughout the U.S., Caribbean and Europe—as well as Bohemia Especial, Presidente Light and Ambar. Presidente, which was handled in the U.S. by MillerCoors as recently as 2010, now has its own Miami-based import unit, Presidente USA. The brand currently sells around 1.5 million (2.25-gallon) cases in the U.S., down from 1.6 million in 2006, according to Impact Databank.

•Chef and restaurateur Charlie Palmer has opened his first San Francisco restaurant, Burritt Tavern, on the second floor of the Mystic Hotel, which was formerly the Crescent Hotel before Palmer acquired and rebranded the property back in November. The new 125-seat eatery is located adjacent to the hotel’s retro cocktail lounge, the Burritt Room, and has a similar speakeasy feel, with private curtained booths and vintage photographs donning the walls. It serves a menu of American classics, including steaks, chops and oysters. Burritt Tavern is currently open for dinner nightly and will introduce lunch service within the coming weeks.

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