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News Briefs for September 9, 2013

September 9, 2013

Diageo has appointed Matt Bruhn, currently marketing and innovation director for Australia, as its global brand director for Smirnoff, effective October 1. Bruhn, who will report to David Gates, head of premium core brands, replaces Simon Burch, who is leaving to pursue other opportunities. A nine-year Diageo veteran, Bruhn has held a series of senior marketing roles across the group’s Australia and Asia Pacific business, including sponsorship manager for both regions and marketing manager for Bundaberg rum, in which he led an effort to reposition Bundaberg upmarket. Prior to joining Diageo, Bruhn spent time in the Imperial Tobacco and Kellogg’s organizations.

•BL Restaurant Operations’ Bar Louie restaurant and bar chain is planning a major U.S. expansion. Currently operating more than 70 operations across 25 states, the chain is planning to establish 40 new locations this year and next, as well as open a total of 100 corporate-owned and 100 franchise outposts within the next five years. Bar Louie, which was established in 1990 as a 50-50 bar-restaurant concept, offers a variety of imported beers and microbrews, more than 20 wines by-the-glass and a menu of handcrafted premium cocktails. Headquartered in Addison, Texas, Bar Louie claims to have grown by 50% at its corporate locations since 2011, and the chain is projecting an acceleration to more than 70% growth by the end of this year.

•Healdsburg, California-based Balverne Winery is relaunching its eponymous wine brand. The initial releases include a 2012 Rosé of Sangiovese ($19.99), a 2012 Russian River Sauvignon Blanc ($24.99) and a 2012 Russian River Chardonnay ($24.99), crafted by winemaker Margaret Davenport, as well as a 2010 Russian River Pinot Noir ($34.99) produced by previous winemaker Julie Lumgair. The wines are now available across California, New York, Florida, Illinois, Texas, New Jersey and Minnesota. Balverne changed its name to Windsor Oaks Vineyards in 1992 when the property was purchased by current owner Bob Stein and began focusing on selling grapes to other wineries. It resumed its own winemaking under the Windsor Oaks label in 2005, and will continue to market that brand in addition to Balverne.

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