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News Briefs for February 9, 2015

February 9, 2015

E&J Gallo is launching a new liqueur, Viniq, into national distribution. A blend of premium vodka, Moscato and natural fruit flavor, Viniq was initially tested in seven markets beginning in May 2014 and enjoyed notable success in the nightlife sector in Los Angeles and Atlanta. Targeted at Millennial consumers, the 40-proof liqueur “shimmers” when shaken for an eye-catching effect, Gallo says. Now available nationally, Viniq retails at around $20 a 750-ml. bottle.

•Windsor, California-based Martinelli Winery and Vineyards has appointed David Hejl CEO and general manager. A 30-year veteran of the food and consumer products industry, Hejl comes to Martinelli from Kosta Browne Winery in Sebastopol, California, where he most recently held the role of CEO and general manager. He has also previously held executive positions with Nabisco, Berkshire Hathaway, Gourmet Award Foods and Ruiz Food Products. Hejl replaces Lee Martinelli Sr., who has served as CEO of Martinelli Winery and Vineyards since 1985 and will retain his existing role as chairman of the board.

•Chicago-based Old Town Pour House is expanding beyond Illinois for the first time. The company, which started in March 2012 with a combination restaurant and bar in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood offering nearly 100 draft beers on tap, is opening an outpost in Gaithersburg, Maryland on March 2, bringing its total number of locations to three. Like the Chicago flagship and a second location in the suburb of Oak Brook, the Gaithersburg restaurant will encompass about 10,000 square feet with seating for 300. Beer represents 50% of the operation’s beverage alcohol sales, with the remainder split evenly between spirits and wine, the latter offered in a selection of eight draft wines by the glass. Co-owner Chris Bisaillon says the company is embarking on further expansion, with two more restaurants “somewhere in the Midwest” slated to launch in 2016. “We’d like to open two to four restaurants a year going forward, and get up to 25 or 30 within the next 10 years,” Bisaillon said. “We’re looking at locations all around the country.”

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