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

News Briefs for January 13, 2015

January 13, 2015

•Chilean winemaker Concha y Toro has invested roughly $5 million in a new viti- and vini-cultural research center in Chile’s Maule Valley. Located on a 2,700-acre estate, Concha y Toro’s 16,150-square-foot Center for Research and Innovation features an agriculture research laboratory, enological laboratory, experimental wine cellar, auditorium and tasting facilities. According to Concha y Toro, the center will focus on “the overall advancement and well-being of Chile’s wine industry,” with initial research being conducted in partnership with the University of California (Davis) and French vine producer Mercier-Groupe.

•Binny’s Beverage Depot expects to begin construction of a new store in Mokena, Illinois this summer, with opening expected in late autumn. The 15,000-square-foot store will be the chain’s 32nd location, and will mark the first time the Chicago-based retailer has built a store from the ground up. Like other Binny’s locations, the site—at 21410 Wolf Road—will feature a temperature-controlled wine cellar, a walk-in humidor, a rare spirits room and a beer cooler comprised of more than 20 doors. The new store is expected to stock upwards of 8,000 wine, beer, distilled spirits, cigar and accessories SKUs. With annual sales revenue of some $330 million, Binny’s operates stores in Chicago and its surrounding suburbs, as well as Bloomington and Champaign in downstate Illinois.

•Fabio Viviani, the Italian born chef who owns restaurants in Chicago, California and Florida, is now producing a line of wines under the Fabio Viviani Wine Collection brand name. The 2012 No. 78 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2012 No. 19 Chardonnay, both produced in the Santa Ynez Valley on land Viviani leases above Santa Barbara, both retail at $14 a 750-ml. in an exclusive test at the Chicago supermarket chain Mariano’s. In coming months, Viviani, who made a name for himself on “Top Chef” and other TV competitions, will be introducing a Chianti and Pinot Grigio sourced from Italy, with a deal in the works to offer them through the Total Wine & More chain. “We sold more than 1,000 cases in our first two weeks at Mariano’s, which will continue to have an exclusive until the end of January,” Viviani said in an interview. “We want to grow the brand carefully from here. We’re getting a lot of interest from many other retailers as well.”

•Diageo has won shareholder approval from subsidiary United Spirits to license its brand portfolio in India. On January 9, United Sprits announced that just over 76% of the group’s minority shareholders had voted in favor of the deal, granting United Spirits license to manufacture and sell Diageo brands. The approval comes just two months after shareholders rejected an earlier bid from Diageo, claiming the parent company’s proposal failed to offer United Spirits sufficient upside. According to news reports, Diageo followed with a revised proposal, promising the deal would generate roughly INR7 billion ($113m) for United Spirits in its first full year. Acquired by Diageo in July 2014, United Spirits reported a net loss of INR44.9 billion ($742.7m) for the year through March.

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