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News Briefs for May 14, 2012

May 14, 2012

•Purple Wine Co. has named Peter Baedeker as managing director, imports. In the newly created position, Baedeker will be in charge of expanding the company’s portfolio by sourcing brands from around the world and will report directly to the company’s president, Dennis Carroll. He most recently served as president of The Henry Wine Group. Prior to that, he worked as director of corporate sale and national accounts manager at Republic National Distributing Co. Founded in 2001 by Derek Benham, Purple Wine Co.’s current stable of brands includes Impact “Hot Brand” Mark West, Avalon, Four Vines and Bex—a portfolio projected to pass the 1-million-case mark this year.

•“Jersey Shore” star Pauly D is partnering with David Kanbar, co-founder of Skinnygirl Cocktails, to release a vodka-based ready-to-drink cocktail called REMIX, which will be available in various flavors. The signature drink was showcased at the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America convention in Las Vegas in April, where it reportedly sold more cases than Skinnygirl did over an 18-month period. Details about REMIX’s official release date have yet to be announced.

•Sotheby’s has launched Sotheby’s Champagne, its own private-label offering. Made from 100% Grand Cru Chardonnay, the non-vintage Champagne is produced by R&L Legras and sourced from Chouilly in Champagne’s Côte de Blancs region. Prior to the launch, Sotheby’s had been selling R&L Legras’s name brand as its house Champagne. The existing R&L Legras label will continue to be offered alongside the newly created Sotheby’s Champagne. Available online at sothebyswine.com, Sotheby’s Champagne is priced at $29.99 a 750-ml. and $69.95 a 1.5-liter.

•Kenwood, California-based Blackstone Winery has been sold by Constellation Brands to Stonecushion Inc., owned by Ken Wilson, for an undisclosed price. The sale includes the production facility and tasting room, but the Blackstone brand—which depleted 1.16 million cases last year—remains under Constellation’s ownership. The Blackstone facility has a permit for annual production of 125,000 cases per year. The acquisition follows on the heels of another recent addition to the Wilson family’s holdings—Dry Creek winery Pezzi King Vineyards, which was acquired by Wilson Artisan Wineries in March.

•The Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) is threatening to file a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against the U.S., regarding the region’s ongoing rum subsidy battle. The organization has been critical of recent measures taken by Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to use U.S. government refunds to create subsidies and incentives for large international rum producers like Bacardi and Diageo. CARICOM is claiming that the subsidies violate WTO regulations and make it impossible for smaller rum players to compete. Triggered by Diageo’s 2010 decision to shift production of its Captain Morgan rum brand from Puerto Rico to the USVI after being lured by higher rebates, the Caribbean rum war has since resulted in increased incentives for Bacardi—which does much of its production in Puerto Rico—as well as Beam Inc.’s Cruzan rum distillery in the USVI.


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