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News Briefs for August 13, 2014

August 13, 2014

•California’s Castle Rock Winery has set the goal of doubling its volume to 1 million cases within five years. Castle Rock, which plays mainly at the $9-$16 price point and produces its wines at the Francis Ford Coppola facility in Geyserville, is currently at around 500,000 cases, with Pinot Noir accounting for about 300,000 cases. As part of its drive to boost volume in the years ahead, Castle Rock recently unveiled a new label design across its range, and introduced screwcap closures on its white wines and some of its Pinot Noir offerings. The company also welcomed a new director of winemaking at the start of this year—Eric Laumann, a veteran of Kendall-Jackson, Chalone and Bonny Doon among others—to replace the retiring Joe Briggs, and in June named longtime Kenwood executive Dick Reeves as senior vice president, national sales manager.

•Atlantic City’s Revel Casino, developed for $2.4 billion and opened in 2012, will close by September 10, unless a buyer for the troubled business emerges in the interim. Revel, which has filed twice for bankruptcy protection, most recently in June, has so far failed to secure a suitor. Although Revel is said to have been successful in bringing new, younger consumers to Atlantic City after its opening—which was seen as a potential game-changer for the city’s ailing gambling and entertainment scene—it still never managed to turn a profit. Atlantic City has been suffering of late, as neighboring states like Pennsylvania, New York and Connecticut have been increasing gambling options in recent years and presenting new competition. In addition to Revel, both Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino and the Showboat (owned by Caesars) are also closing at the end of the summer. A fourth casino, The Atlantic Club, shuttered in January.

•Alpana Singh, the Chicago sommelier who opened the Boarding House restaurant two years ago, has started construction work on her second restaurant, Seven Lions. Slated to open late this year, the new venue will be located on Michigan Avenue across from the Art Institute and span 8,000 square feet with seating for at least 150. New sommelier Kelly Peterson will work with Singh to oversee a wine list of 300 labels and a cellar of 6,000 bottles (Boarding House has nearly 500 labels and 3,000 bottles), with an emphasis on domestic wines to accompany what Singh describes as an American Clubhouse menu heavy on classics such as steak tartare and cobb salad. Bourbon-based cocktails will play a prime role at the bar, Singh says. “With a location adjacent to the Loop, we expect to draw both tourists and office workers coming in at happy hour, so we expect to get more call for cocktails and spirits at Seven Lions,” Singh adds.

•U.S. Taco Co. and Urban Taproom, an offshoot of Taco Bell, opened its first restaurant in Huntington Beach, Calif., this week, minus the taproom. Parent company Yum! Brands Inc. said that it was unable to secure a liquor license with local authorities in time for the opening on Monday and therefore is offering only non-alcoholic drinks. The company is still seeking dozens of licensed locations in major markets around the country for U.S. Taco, which is designed to feature upscale Mexican-styled food such as lobster tacos paired with unexpected flavors such as blueberry beer. A signature drink will be a Mexican Car Bomb milkshake—Guinness stout and ice cream. It’s expected that each restaurant will carry 50 beers, with half a dozen of them offered on draft, as well as spirits including tequila. The scope of the wine list is still unclear.

MillerCoors’ Redd’s Apple Ale is taking aim at the Hispanic market via a new partnership with Mexican actor Omar Chaparro. Kicking off August 20, Redd’s is undertaking a six-city tour of the Southwest that will bring Chaparro to radio and television stations across Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas. Along the way, Chaparro will urge consumers to “break their routine” with Redd’s. Concurrent with the Redd’s Apple Ale tour, MillerCoors is also supporting the brand with a national Spanish-language ad campaign. An Impact “Hot Brand,” the Redd’s franchise sold more than 7 million (2.25-gallon) cases in 2013, its first year on the market.

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