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Gallo Lines Up National Launch Of Dark Horse, Sees Success With Cocktail-Friendly Wines

December 29, 2014

With 2014 drawing to a close, E.&J. Gallo is loading its quiver for next year, revealing plans for a national rollout of its Dark Horse brand, which has prospered despite limited distribution to date. Retailing at $9.99 a 750-ml., Dark Horse is currently sold in 12 states—in liquor stores as well as all Trader Joe’s locations nationwide. As of next March, it will hit national grocery and club store distribution. Even with limited availability, Dark Horse reached 50,000 cases in its debut last year to earn Impact “Hot Prospect” honors, highlighting its potential in the broader market.

E.&J. Gallo’s vice president of marketing Stephanie Gallo tells SND that Dark Horse is “one of our most anticipated new brands.” While Cabernet Sauvignon is the lead varietal for the California-sourced brand, the line also includes a Chardonnay, Merlot and a Big Red Blend (the latter is a mix of Malbec, Syrah, Tempranillo and Merlot sourced from Argentina, California and Australia).

Elsewhere in the Gallo portfolio, the company continues to see potential in category-crossing offerings like its Barefoot Refresh and Barefoot Fusions lines, launched in 2012 and 2013 respectively. Refresh ($8 a 750-ml.), a range of lightly carbonated wines meant for consumption over ice, has seen notable success out of the gate, more than doubling in Nielsen channels to over 300,000 cases year-to-date through October 11. Fusions, a fruit-flavored sparkling wine proposition, has also showed progress.

“Launching Barefoot Refresh and Barefoot Fusions has allowed us to craft wine options that reflect consumer taste preferences that include lighter, more refreshing wines as well as bubblies with a flavorful twist,” Gallo says, adding that the company’s recent consumer survey of wine preferences showed ample enthusiasm for such mixable wines, especially among Millennials. “We were pleasantly surprised to see that almost half of younger wine drinkers (ages 25-40) are making wine cocktails,” Gallo notes.

The foray into flavored wines has also extended to the Gallo Family Vineyards brand ($5 a 750-ml.), which introduced special Holiday Blends in recent weeks: a red with flavors of Mixed Berries & Chocolate; and a white with Apple & Caramel.

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