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News Briefs for January 7, 2014

January 7, 2015

•John Pedroncelli started making wine for his family’s Sonoma winery in Dry Creek Valley when Harry Truman was President. For 66 vintages, he made the sort of wines he liked: easy-to-sip reds and whites that people could afford to drink every day. On January 4, just a few months shy of his 90th birthday, Pedroncelli died after a brief struggle with cancer, Wine Spectator reports. In 1949, he made the first bottled Zinfandel under the Pedroncelli label. John and his brother Jim bought out their father’s share in the winery in 1963. Soon, Pedroncelli was guiding the winery’s transition from bulk-wine producer to premium winery. By the 1980s the family owned 180 acres of vines in three sites in Dry Creek Valley. Although his health was failing, Pedroncelli remained actively involved in the 2014 harvest.

•Alcohol delivery platform Minibar has collaborated with Absolut vodka on a new custom cocktail kit program in the New York market. The pilot program, running through the end of this month, includes two cocktail kit options: a Cosmopolitan kit and a Gimlet kit. Tim Murphy, Absolut’s vice president digital and media, said the initiative “provides us with a unique way to connect directly with consumers,” adding that the Minibar brand “clearly resonates with our target audience.” Launched in 2014, Minibar’s alcohol delivery platform currently operates in New York (where it claims to be the leading delivery provider), San Francisco, Chicago and Dallas among other markets.

•Minneapolis-based United States Distilled Products (USDP), parent company of Phillips Distilling Company, has named Diageo veteran Mike Duggan as CEO, replacing Pedro Caceres. Prior to joining USDP, Duggan spent 15 years with Diageo, most recently as vice president-general manager, control division West. Before that, Duggan held various marketing positions at ConAgra Foods. In his new role, Duggan will lead efforts behind the Phillips Distilling spirits portfolio—including UV Vodka, Prairie Organic Spirits, Revel Stoke Whiskies, Phillips Spirits and Sour Puss Liqueurs—as well as further the company’s legacy of innovation, according to USDP chairman Dean Phillips.

•Back Bar Project LLC has released a special edition Crème de Rose liqueur under the label Speed Rack Black Rose ($34.99). Produced by France’s Giffard and Bigallet Liqueurs, the new offering was created in partnership with the Speed Rack all-female bartending competition, and net proceeds will support breast cancer research and education. The 20%-abv liqueur’s formula includes Moroccan Rosa Damascena petals macerated in neutral beet spirit with sugar and water added. The label features Speed Rack’s black-and-pink logo. Black Rose is available in all Speed Rack competition markets, including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, Texas, California, Washington and Colorado, among others.

•Downton Abbey Wines has extended its lineup with the launch of the Countess of Grantham Collection. Rolling out this month, the collection includes a Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, both sourced from estate vineyards in Lodi, California. The Countess of Grantham duo will be available at select grocery and retail outlets throughout the U.S., priced at around $14.99 a 750-ml., and joins the Downton Abbey brand’s existing Blanc and Claret Bordeaux blends. Launched in 2013, the Downton Abbey Wines range is inspired by the television drama Downton Abbey, which debuts its fifth season this year. The brand is handled in the U.S. by Acampo, California-based LCF Wines, a joint venture between the LangeTwins, Coors and Ficeli families.

•Glazer’s Distributors has appointed Jim Oliver to the newly created role of senior vice president, D&E Fine Wine Group for the Midwest region. In his new post, Oliver, who was previously corporate senior vice president, Texas D&E Fine Wine Group, is relocating to Chicago, where he’ll report to Midwest regional president Keith Petrauskas. Oliver previously worked in the Midwest for Robert Mondavi Winery, Pacific Wine Co., Romano Brothers, Fetzer and Heublein.

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