Purple Wine Co. Expects To Pass 1-Million-Case Mark In 2012May 8, 2012
Graton, California-based Purple Wine Co. is seeing steady growth across its portfolio, led by Impact “Hot Brand” Mark West, and is poised to surpass 1 million cases in company-wide sales this year. “Our first quarter was quite encouraging. Mark West’s depletions and sales are hovering at a little over 40% year-over-year,” says Purple Wine CEO Derek Benham. Benham is one of the founders of the Blackstone wine brand, which he and his partners sold to Constellation for $144 million in 2001. He founded Purple Wine Co. the same year.
Benham tells Shanken News Daily that Mark West is projected to reach 700,000 cases in 2012, after depleting 570,000 nine-liter cases on a volume increase of 16.3% last year, according to Impact Databank. The brand features a California Pinot Noir ($12), a Central Coast Chardonnay ($10), a Santa Lucia Pinot Noir ($19) and a Russian River Pinot Noir ($25).
Purple Wine is playing in one of the U.S. wine market’s current sweet spots, seeing most of its growth in the $10-$14 category. Besides Mark West, its portfolio also consists of Avalon ($10-$19), a brand that depleted 205,000 cases in 2011 and is slated to reach 225,000 this year, and Bex ($10), a small German Riesling brand that’s expected to reach around 25,000 cases this year. The fourth key brand in the Purple Wine stable is California Zinfandel and Chardonnay producer Four Vines, which the company purchased in late 2010 from partners Bill Grant, Susan Mahler and Christian Tietje for an undisclosed sum.
“We previously had no presence in the Zinfandel category,” Benham says. “(Four Vines) was an opportunity to acquire a brand that has a growing presence in Zinfandel and also in the unoaked Chardonnay segment.” Benham says Four Vines’ unoaked Naked Chardonnay ($12), which makes up about 45% of the brand’s sales, acts more as a standalone brand than part of the Four Vines lineup, and will be developed as such looking ahead. Four Vines’ 2009 vintage also featured four different types of Zinfandel and a Petite Sirah. “Trailing 2011, Four Vines was right around 137,000 cases,” Benham says. “We intend to grow that modestly into the 170,000-case range for 2012.”Subscribe to Shanken News Daily’s Email Newsletter, delivered to your inbox each morning.
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