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News Briefs for June 7, 2012

June 7, 2012

Diageo has acquired Cabin Fever maple flavored whisky, a craft whisky brand. Cabin Fever was founded by Rob Robillard and has built a loyal following, primarily in the northeast. Diageo said the Robillard family will remain heavily involved in the brand going forward. Cabin Fever will now become part of Diageo’s Catalyst division, the unit launched last fall to focus on high-potential niche spirits brands and headed up by Diageo’s Stephen Rust. Made with real maple syrup, the 80-proof Cabin Fever retails at $19.99 a 750-ml. bottle. Diageo will start rolling out the brand nationally this fall.

•Francis Coppola Winery has repackaged its Rosso & Bianco line of wines ($11 a 750-ml.). Intended to create an “upscale feel” across the brand’s Rosso, Pinot Grigio, Shiraz, Chardonnay and Moscato wines, changes include a bottle shoulder label, gold foil highlights, embossing on the label and a natural cork finish. Under the new packaging, each variant’s bottle bears a different story from Francis Ford Coppola, who originally created the Rosso & Bianco line to reflect the simple table wines made by his family during Prohibition.

•California’s Crimson Wine Group has named Natasha Hayes as vice president of marketing. Hayes has 11 years of wine marketing experience, including management of the Kendall-Jackson, Ravenswood, Blackstone and Lindemans brands. Most recently she led her own firm, Hayes Consulting, focused on start-up brands in both the wine and consumer packaged goods businesses. In her new role she will lead marketing for Crimson’s Pine Ridge, Chamisal, Seghesio and Archery Summit brands, reporting directly to Crimson Wine CEO Erle Martin. Crimson’s former vice president, marketing, Lisa Goff, departed late last year. She is now vice president, direct to consumer, at Terlato Wine Group.

•Asheville, North Carolina-based Biltmore Wine Co., which markets wines from North Carolina and California, is expanding its production and warehousing capabilities in the Golden State, and aiming for increased distribution throughout the West. Biltmore’s wines will be available in California beginning in July, Arizona in August and the Pacific Northwest later this year, through a partnership with Young’s Market Co. in all three states. Biltmore wines are currently available in 27 states and Washington, D.C. Biltmore Wine president Jerry Douglas says the company hopes to have distribution in all 50 states by 2014. Until recently the company has sold the majority of its 170,000-case production directly to consumers visiting its North Carolina winery, where it grows Chardonnay, Riesling, Viognier, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot varieties on 94 acres of vineyards. It also markets Reserve wines from California including a Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, a Napa Valley Chardonnay, an Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and a proprietary red wine blend from Sonoma County called Passport. The Biltmore portfolio ranges from $10 to $25 a bottle.

•Ruby Tuesday’s founder, chairman, chief executive and president Sandy Beall will be stepping down from his positions after a successor is chosen to replace him. The company’s board of directors has created a committee dedicated to finding Beall’s replacement, though the company has not released a timetable for the search. Beall founded Ruby Tuesday 40 years ago in Knoxville, Tennessee, and has since expanded the brand to its current 740 company-owned units and 85 franchised units. Ruby Tuesday also owns restaurant chains Marlin & Rays and Lime Fresh Mexican Grill. Beall will remain in his positions at Ruby Tuesday until a successor is named.

•The Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas will be undergoing a $50 million renovation beginning in July and lasting through the end of the year. The revamping includes redesigned rooms, upgraded slot machines, new food options at the Bistro Buffet and new restaurant venues. The One Group will be taking over the space currently housed by Mexican restaurant Garduño’s to open a new sports-themed restaurant and lounge call Heraea, and the hotel’s food court, The Eatery, will be getting two new restaurants, Earl of Sandwich and Chronic Taco.

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