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News Briefs for September 30, 2015

September 30, 2015

•Diageo is reportedly looking to sell certain global wine brands in its portfolio, including Blossom Hill and Piat d’Or, according to Sky News. Citing unnamed sources, Sky said Treasury Wine Estates was the most likely purchaser, and that a deal could be announced as early as October, but that any prospective transaction could still fall through. Reports out of the U.K. this past spring indicated that Diageo was fielding offers for some of its wine assets. Contacted by SND this morning, a Diageo spokesperson said, “Wine is a small part of our business but plays an important role,” but declined to comment on the sale rumors.

•Baron Philippe de Rothschild SA’s Mouton Cadet is expanding activities in golf, announcing today that it will be the exclusive wine supplier to the 2016 Ryder Cup, to be held next September at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota. The move marks the first U.S. Ryder Cup exposure for Mouton Cadet, which is the official wine of both the 2014 and 2018 Ryder Cup events in Europe, as well as The Open Championship. Baron Philippe de Rothschild SA managing director Hugues Lechanoine tells SND that he expects the U.S. initiative to raise interest in the brand stateside, where it has been roughly stable at 185,000 cases in recent years.

•Duckhorn Wine Co. is taking its Washington state Cabernet Sauvignon, Canvasback, into national distribution. Released on a limited basis last year, the Red Mountain Cabernet saw a strong response, prompting Duckhorn to triple production to 7,500 cases for the second vintage. Canvasback retails around $40 a 750-ml.

•Brown-Forman has broken ground on its Slane Distillery project in Ireland’s Boyne Valley, expected to open by late 2016. Located on the 1,500-acre grounds of the 18th-century Slane Castle 30 miles north of Dublin, Slane Distillery will feature a visitor center and distillery capable of producing more than 600,000 cases. The first Slane Irish whiskies are expected to hit the market in early 2017.

•Diageo is extending its Chateau La Paws brand with four new wines: a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sweet Red Blend and Sauvignon Blanc. Retailing at $12.99 a 750-ml., Chateau La Paws—which partners with North Shore Animal League America to support rescue dogs—also includes a Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Red Blend, which launched earlier this year.

•Stoli Group, a division of SPI, has appointed Lars Vestbirk to the role of marketing director, international, effective immediately. Vestbirk, who joined Stoli in 2012 as global marketing manager, most recently served as global brand director. He will report to Stoli Group CEO Rob Cullins.

•Southern Wine & Spirits has expanded its national accounts team with a series of new senior and mid-level appointments, effective September 1. Led by vice president, national accounts and director of sales Bill Edwards, the unit has named three new regional vice presidents: Nancy Curry as regional vice president, west; Tony Dalton as regional vice president, central; and Bryan Williamson as regional vice president, east. Concurrently, Southern has added two senior national account executives and two national account executives to the team. According to Southern executive vice president, commercial strategy Kevin Fennessey, the appointments will help the company keep pace with a three-fold increase in national accounts sales over the past decade.

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