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

News Briefs for February 24, 2014

February 24, 2014

•Florida-based Imperial Brands, known for its Sobieski vodka brand, has assumed sales responsibility in the U.S. and Canada for Sammy Hagar’s Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum ($21.99 a 750-ml.) under a new agreement that took effect February 1. Imperial president Chester Brandes told SND last fall that the company was entering “a new era” in which it would court agency brands in addition to its focus on Sobieski, owned by Imperial’s parent company, Belvedere SA. Beach Bar Rum, introduced in 2011, is the second spirits project for Hagar, who sold his Cabo Wabo Tequila brand to Gruppo Campari in recent years in a two-part deal totaling $91 million.

•Constellation is extending Corona Light’s availability on draft to 35 markets next month, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Dallas. The move follows a successful test rollout of Corona Light on draft, in which the company found that in markets where the label was available on tap, overall brand sales increased about 12% versus non-draft markets. Jim Sabia, CMO at Constellation’s Crown Imports beer unit, told CNBC that Corona Light saw a very traditional pattern of consumers sampling the brand on draft and then following up with off-premise purchases. Constellation will back the extended draft rollout with TV ads featuring Corona Light. Sabia added that though Constellation is now also testing Corona Extra on draft, it will be careful to avoid cannibalization of the flagship Corona label’s core bottle format, which it says is an iconic part of the brand.

•New York state’s wine and grape industry generated $4.8 billion for the state economy in 2012—representing growth of 27% over a period of four years—according to a new report by Stonebridge Research for the New York Wine & Grape Foundation. With 320 wineries combining for revenues of $553 million, New York now boasts 37,000 acres of vineyards, and the state’s wine industry currently supports 25,000 jobs and contributes more than $400 million in taxes to state and local coffers, the report says.

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