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

News Briefs for September 28, 2012

September 28, 2012

•Amazon is preparing a return to wine retailing after pulling out of its previous attempt in 2009, reports the Wall Street Journal. About 100 wineries from the Napa Valley Vintners Association attended an Amazon workshop on the subject this week, held in Napa. According to the report, Amazon will charge a monthly fee of $40 to participate, as well as a 15% commission on wine sales, with the venture set to roll out in the coming weeks. The wine would be shipped directly from the producers. That arrangement differs from Amazon’s earlier foray into wine retailing, in which it partnered with a third party, New Vine Logistics, to help ship wine. That effort foundered when New Vine Logistics ran into financial difficulties (its remnants were eventually acquired by online marketer Inertia Beverage).

Heineken has finally won control of Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) after a lengthy pursuit. The Dutch brewing giant will pay $4.6 billion for Singaporean conglomerate Fraser & Neave’s 39.7% stake in APB, bringing Heineken’s stake in the company to 95%. APB owns the Tiger and Bintang brands and operates 30 breweries across Asia. Tiger and Bintang account for nearly half the beer market across Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, according to Euromonitor, but Heineken CEO Jean-Francois van Boxmeer pointed to China as still having huge potential for APB’s brands. China’s beer market is expected to grow 12% a year through 2020, he noted.

•Pernod Ricard USA is expanding distribution of its Olmeca Altos Tequila brand in the U.S. beginning this fall. It will enter California and Oregon in September; Massachusetts, Michigan and Indiana in October; and Austin, Texas and Seattle in February 2013. The 100% blue agave Tequila is priced around $25 a 750-ml. The brand test-launched in select markets including Chicago and Denver last year. Earlier this month, Pernod announced revamped packaging for the brand ahead of a nationwide rollout that features an easy-pour bottle design, gold embossing and a wooden cap intended to give the brand “a crafted look.” Olmeca Altos is joined by Olmeca Reposado and Olmeca Tezón in the U.S.

•Darden Restaurants’ wine-focused upscale dining chain Seasons 52 is opening its first Los Angeles outpost in the Westfield Century City Mall on November 12. The 8,528-square-foot venue will have a piano bar, two private dining rooms and an outdoor seating area. Known for using local, fresh ingredients, the restaurant will also feature a glass-encased chef’s garden with 140 plants and a 112-foot wall of plants, grasses and herbs. Seasons 52 currently operates 23 restaurants nationwide, with plans to open nine new units by the end of 2013 in six states, including Texas, Alabama, Massachusetts, Ohio, New Jersey and California.

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