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

News Briefs for June 6, 2014

June 6, 2014

•California’s Vinum Cellars has joined the portfolio of Illinois-based importer and marketer Winesellers, Ltd. through a national sales and marketing agreement, effective July 1. The addition of Vinum Cellars, a collaboration between winemakers Richard Bruno and Chris Condos, expands Winesellers’ presence in California wines (imports currently account for 90% of company volume). Vinum “V” wines—which will launch in a new package next month—include Chenin Blanc and Petite Sirah from Clarksburg and Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Monterey at $13. Vinum “Veritas” wines include Rhone varietal blends Red Dirt Red and White Elephant ($18), among others. The winery plans to release The Insider, a new Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles ($18), under the Veritas tier. Meanwhile, Winesellers intends to help boost Vinum Cellars’ premium wine-on-tap sales, a small but growing part of the winery’s business.

•Imperial Brands’ Sobieski vodka is extending its “Truth In Vodka” messaging with a new multi-million-dollar campaign. Running through the end of the year, the brand’s latest Truth In Vodka push includes out-of-home initiatives—including creative on taxi tops, phone kiosks, buses and wallscapes—as well as digital and print components. The campaign, which kicks off with an initial four-week out-of-home activation, will target consumers and trade across key U.S. markets, including New York City, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Dallas and Houston, among others. Retailing at around $11 a 750-ml., Sobieski vodka was up 0.5% to 1 million cases in the U.S. last year, according to Impact Databank.

•The state of Maine has canceled a 10-year, $20 million marketing contract with distributor Pine State Trading—due to take effect July 1—owing to inaccurate information provided by Pine State during the vendor process. The Portland Press Herald reports that, because of a clerical error, Pine State originally understated the amount of business it does in New Hampshire, an issue of interest to Maine officials who have noted a loss of spirits sales to New Hampshire in recent years. Maine’s Bureau of Alcoholic Beverage and Lottery Operations expects to solicit new proposals for the marketing contract in the near future, with Pine State expected to re-bid. Separately, Pine State will retain its more valuable distribution contract with the Bureau, a deal which is expected to generate as much as $450 million in revenue for Maine over the next decade.

•Bacchus Capital has announced a pair of leadership changes at its Wine By Joe/Dobbes Family Estate and Panther Creek Cellars wineries. Quinton Jay, currently managing director of Willamette Valley-based Panther Creek, has been promoted to president. In his new role, Jay will manage all of Panther Creek’s business operations and sales and marketing initiatives. Concurrently, Dundee, Oregon-based Wine by Joe/Dobbes Family Estate has expanded the role of current general manager Gretchen Boock, adding wholesale, business operation and planning responsibilities to her existing finance, HR and direct-to-consumer duties. Along with Panther Creek and Wine By Joe/Dobbes Family Estate, Bacchus Capital’s current portfolio includes Washington’s DeLille Cellars, California’s Madrigal Family Winery and Sbragia Family Vineyards and boutique import, production and distribution company Maritime Wine Trading Collective.

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