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

News Briefs for May 25, 2012

May 25, 2012

•German producer Schmitt Söhne has added three new wines to its portfolio—Relax Pinot Grigio, Relax Pink and Fünf Sangria. Relax Pinot Grigio and Pink (both $9.99 a 750-ml. bottle) join Cool Red and Riesling in the Relax brand lineup. Fünf Sangria ($7.99 a 750-ml.) is the fourth addition to the Fünf range—which also includes Sassy White, Sweet Red and Moscato—and comes in the same white-painted bottle with the brand’s trademark silver “5” on the front label (fünf means “five” in German). Relax, an Impact “Hot Brand,” depleted 398,000 nine-liter cases in the U.S. in 2011 on a 10.6% volume increase, while Fünf was up 22.5% to approximately 134,000 cases, according to Impact Databank.

MillerCoors is planning several upcoming new product offerings for the summer and fall. Its fast-growing Blue Moon brand will be extended with a Caramel Apple Spiced Ale in time for the next blue moon on August 31. Meanwhile, the brewer’s Leinenkugel brand will introduce Lemon Berry Shandy and Snowdrift Vanilla Porter versions this year. Both Leinenkugel and Blue Moon are marketed under MillerCoors’ craft and import unit Tenth and Blake. MillerCoors is also playing up its recent introduction of aluminum bottles on its Coors Light, Coors Banquet, Miller Genuine Draft and Molson Canadian brands as suited to outdoor summer drinking occasions.

•Morgan’s Pier—a destination beer garden concept—has opened in Philadelphia’s Delaware River waterfront district. The seasonal venue is part of the city’s waterfront rejuvenation project. In addition to wine, spirits and cocktails, Morgan’s Pier will feature a rotating selection of domestic craft beers, including drafts from regional brewers like Dogfish Head and Troegs Brewing Company, and more than 20 canned beer offerings. A menu by chef David Katz will be offered until 11 p.m. each night, and a series of guest chefs will make single-day appearances throughout the summer.

Wirtz Beverage Illinois has debuted a 4,000-square-foot test bar and kitchen called the Alchemy Room within its new $80 million, 605,000-square-foot offices and headquarters in Cicero, Illinois. The Alchemy Room boasts a professional-grade kitchen with a multi-bottle wine fridge, a 38-foot, 18-seat granite bar, tables and seating for lectures and events, an iPad-controlled multimedia system and an extensive inventory of spirits distributed by Wirtz. The space can accommodate 110 people and is designed to be a laboratory and training center for Wirtz employees and customers. Wirtz beverage development manager Eric Hay will offer bartending classes and consulting. Wirtz Beverage Illinois is the flagship unit of Wirtz Beverage Group, with more than $1.5 billion in annual sales.

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