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Gonzalez Byass Takes Charge Of U.S. Portfolio, Eyeing On-Premise Gains

April 25, 2014

Last year, Spain’s Gonzalez Byass acquired Chicago-based wine importer Vin Divino from Italy’s Angelini Group with the intention of taking control of its own U.S. sales and marketing. This past February, Vin Divino added Gonzalez Byass’ wine and Sherry brands to its portfolio (from previous importer San Francisco Wine Exchange) and set to work expanding their presence in the market, focusing heavily on the on-premise. Jorge Grosse, Gonzalez Byass’ CEO, tells SND that he expects the company—which has branded production of about 2 million cases—to at least double its U.S. business from its current 30,000 cases looking ahead, with highly-rated Rioja brand Beronia leading the way.

In addition to Beronia—a fixture on Wine Spectator’s annual Top 100 Wines list from 2010-2012—Gonzalez Byass’ wine brands include Viñas del Vero from Somontano, Finca Constancia from Toledo, Finca Moncloa from Cadiz and Vilarnau Cava. “Vin Divino already had a strong Italian portfolio,” Grosse says. “Our Spanish brands are a great complement. We have the right team in place, and we see this as a long-term business. The numbers will come.”

With the addition of the Gonzalez Byass brands, Vin Divino’s business is now 40% Italian and 30% Spanish, with offerings from Austria and California comprising 20% and 10% respectively. The company is partnered mainly with Southern Wine & Spirits and Glazer’s across the country, and is aligned with M.S. Walker in New England. Those three distributors account for 80% to 85% of Vin Divino’s business, which skews 55% on-premise.

Vin Divino president Len Nowicki tells SND that he expects Beronia to expand dramatically in restaurants, with significant opportunities for Gonzalez Byass’ Tio Pepe Sherry as well. “The key with Tio Pepe will be to get it on by-the-glass menus, around the $7-$10 mark. Spanish accounts are a good start, but we also think sushi and Sherry is a great match, so we’ll look to make inroads there.”

Meanwhile, on the spirits side, although certain Gonzalez Byass brands such as Chinchon anis and Lepanto and Soberano brandies remain with Anchor Distilling, Vin Divino is launching the Spanish group’s London No. 1 Gin in the U.S. this year. The rollout will begin with New York in May, followed by New Jersey, Miami, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Grosse says London No. 1, priced around $35 a bottle, is positioned to compete in the on-premise with more established upscale gin brands like Hendrick’s.

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