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

News Briefs for July 25, 2012

July 25, 2012

•Wine industry veterans Tyson Rippey, Barry Gnekow, Joseph Smith and Mark Albrecht have partnered on a new upscale Moscato brand, SIP, which will be marketed by Sonoma-based Vintage Point. Selling for $14.99 a bottle, SIP will roll out in several test markets later this month, with national distribution expected by January. SIP aims to differentiate itself in the increasingly crowded Moscato market by featuring no residual sugar, instead achieving a touch of sweetness through arrested fermentation. It joins a Vintage Point portfolio that includes the fast-rising Layer Cake label, as well as Cherry Pie, Hundred Acre, Educated Guess, Gary Farrell, Goose Ridge, Garnet, Moone-Tsai, Luna Vineyards and Hidden Ridge, among others. In related news, MaryAnn Tsai is stepping down from her post as president of Luna Vineyards after 11 years to focus exclusively on Moone-Tsai, the Napa brand she and her husband Larry Tsai co-founded with former Beringer president Mike Moone four years ago. Luna hasn’t yet announced a replacement.

•Frank Indelicato, Sr., second-generation family member at Delicato Family Vineyards (DFV), passed away on July 22 in Stockton, California at the age of 87. Indelicato, in addition to his two brothers, is credited with growing DFV into one of California’s top wine companies, developing the original plot of land planted by their father and uncle and assembling the largest contiguous vineyard property in the United States in Monterey County in 1988. Indelicato worked at the family business for 65 years, serving in a range of positions such as vineyard manager, winemaker and accountant and continued to serve on the company’s board after retiring from day-to-day operations at age 83. Indelicato’s nephew Chris Indelicato currently leads DFV as president and CEO.

•Diageo North America and Wirtz Beverage Illinois have agreed to renew their longtime distribution contract for the Illinois market, with Wirtz continuing as exclusive distributor for the Diageo spirits and wine portfolio. Wirtz Beverage Illinois recently opened a new, state-of-the-art headquarters in Cicero, Illinois that includes a new warehouse, training and distribution facility.

•U.K.-based online wine retailer Naked Wines has launched a new custom crush service at the former Blackstone Winery in Sonoma County. The service—which offers winemakers the opportunity to crush grapes at $100 a ton—is designed to “grab the attention of experienced winemakers with impressive track records,” says Robin Langton, Naked Wines’ director of winemaking. The company can produce up to 100,000 cases at the Blackstone facility and is currently accepting applicants for the program through August 6. Established in 2008, Naked Wines funds independent winemakers by asking 100,000 customers (known as “Angels”) to invest more than $3 million toward future orders, in exchange for access to exclusive wines at attractive prices. In May, the group announced that it would invest £5.5 million ($8.5M) in U.S. and Australian wineries, as well as bring its online retail concept to consumers in both markets.

•Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey, is partnering with Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville brand of restaurants, retail outlets, hotels and casinos to open a Margaritaville complex at Resorts in May 2013. The venue will feature multiple restaurants and bars, retail stores, a casino and Margaritaville’s first-ever coffee shop. Resorts Casino Hotel will also undergo façade renovations to include the Margaritaville brand design. Margaritaville, owned by Margaritaville Holdings LLC, a subsidiary of Cheeseburger Holding Company LLC, has numerous venues throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

•U.K. restaurant chain Yo! Sushi has opened its first U.S. location in Washington, D.C.’s Union Station. The sushi restaurant chain is known for serving its Japanese cuisine via a conveyor belt cycling between chefs in an open kitchen and guests seated at booths and counters. Yo! Sushi also offers a selection of sake, wine and beer. The chain has plans to open a second D.C. location in Chinatown in the near future, after which it will expand nationwide.


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