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News Briefs for August 4, 2014

August 4, 2014

•Charmer Sunbelt Group (CSG) has acquired the remaining 50% of New Jersey-based wine and spirits distributor R&R Marketing it didn’t previously own from the Reitman family for an undisclosed sum. A member of the Charmer Sunbelt Group since 2004—when CSG obtained a 50% stake in the New Jersey distributor—R&R will continue operating under the same company name. R&R is one of New Jersey’s largest wine and spirits distributors, handling more than 3,500 on-premise and 1,800 off-premise accounts across the state. The acquisition of its partners’ interest in New Jersey is the third such transaction completed by CSG in recent years, following those of Associated Distributors in Virginia and Ben Arnold Beverage in South Carolina.

•Ste. Michelle Wine Estates’ Columbia Crest brand is crafting its latest Cabernet Sauvignon using a new crowdsourcing method. With the help of an interactive website, the Paterson, Washington state-based winery will ask consumers to weigh in on the 18-month winemaking process, allowing them to decide how to tend, irrigate and harvest the grapes. Additionally, Columbia Crest head winemaker Juan Munoz Oca will help guide the online community and answer questions. Around 1,000 cases of the final Crowdsourced Cabernet 2014 will be available, retailing across the U.S., online and at the Columbia Crest tasting room. For the six months through June, Columbia Crest shipments fell 16%, to 378,000 cases, according to Ste. Michelle.

•Carter Oosterhouse, a prominent host on various home-improvement shows on HGTV, TLC and other cable channels, is launching Bonobo Winery, based in the emerging grape-growing AVA of Old Mission Peninsula in northern Michigan, where Oosterhouse grew up and gained the carpentry skills he exhibits on TV today. He expects to market a dozen different labels, including the 2012 Chardonnay Barrel Reserve and a 2012 Riesling Reserve, averaging $22 at retail, later this year. Most of the wine will be sold from a new tasting room, which will open on the 50-acre Bonobo property in September. Initial volume is pegged at 5,000 cases a year, but Oosterhouse expects to double that within two years and pursue online sales to such states as Texas and California. The winemaker is Drew Perry. “This is one of the fastest growing wine regions in the country,” Oosterhouse, 37, says of the Old Mission Peninsula AVA, which is located around Traverse City, Michigan. He touts Chardonnay and Riesling as the region’s key varieties.

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