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Quality-Focused Decoy By Duckhorn Hits 255,000 Cases

March 10, 2014

Duckhorn Wine Co.’s Decoy by Duckhorn has successfully positioned itself as an “affordable luxury” brand, combining strong winemaking credentials with an attractive price point. After rising 40% in 2012 to 175,000 cases in the U.S., Decoy—which retails for around $20-$25 a 750-ml.—rose 46% last year, to reach 255,000 cases.

Established in 1985, Decoy by Duckhorn was originally launched as a red blend-only range, crafted using the company’s surplus wines. Four years ago, Duckhorn Wine decided to expand the fledgling brand, eventually adding Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay varietals. According to Duckhorn Wine senior vice president, chief marketing and business development officer Carol Reber, Decoy now serves as an effective “gateway” to the company’s luxury portfolio, which includes its Duckhorn Vineyards, Paraduxx, Goldeneye and Migration brands, and ranges in price from $25 to $125 a 750-ml.

“With the recession, market demand for high-quality, affordable luxury wines became really big,” explains Reber. “At the time, consumers were scaling back, and Millennials were coming of age, but neither of those groups wanted to scale back on quality. So we make Duckhorn the highest quality that we can make it.”

Decoy by Duckhorn also benefits significantly from its relationship with Duckhorn Wine’s more upscale offerings, which share winemaker expertise, vineyards and other valuable resources with their accessibly-priced portfoliomate. “All the barrels that are used for our higher-tier wines are put into our Decoy system as well,” adds Reber. “If we were building this brand from scratch, we wouldn’t have access to these advantages.”

On-premise currently accounts for close to a third of Decoy’s sales, fueled by a varied mix of fine dining, steakhouse and upscale casual establishments. Off-premise, the brand has reported notable growth within big-box retail chains, including Safeway, Whole Foods, Kroger and HEB, among others. Best known for its red wines, Decoy’s most popular varietal is its Cabernet Sauvignon.

Late last year, Duckhorn Wine made a significant investment in the Decoy range, with August 2013’s acquisition of a custom crush production facility in Hopland, California for an undisclosed amount. The new facility—which comprises 130,000-square-feet—has provided the company space to bring Decoy’s production under one roof.

“The vast majority of our investment goes into wine quality, and that’s really taken up the bulk of our resources,” says Reber. “Our quality story is really our focus, and we will continue on that front.”

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