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New House Vintners “Craft” Unit Driving Gains For Don & Sons

December 28, 2015

Sonoma-based negoçiant Don Sebastiani & Sons, with annual wine volume of around 1.1 million cases, has made major efforts to both premiumize and diversify its portfolio in recent years, launching a bevy of new brands in the fast-growing above-$10 range. President and CEO Donny Sebastiani tells SND the company is looking to build off the initial success of its “craft winemaking” unit, New House Vintners, to help drive growth.

“All the brands in the New House unit are in growth mode, and with anything over $10, we’re seeing gains. The higher up you go, the stronger the business is, and the faster the pace is,” says Sebastiani. “Our wines priced between $12-$25 are doing very well.”

Established late last year, New House Vintners includes brands such as Il Donato (Italy), Gunsight Rock (Paso Robles) and Simple Life (Clarksburg), as well as more recent additions like Queens Peak (Sonoma), Custard (Sonoma) and The Crusher (Clarksburg). The Crusher range ($18) currently sits at 60,000 cases and is projected to grow 19% in 2016. Simple Life, which features a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir at $12, is projected to hit 45,000 cases on 25% growth next year, thanks in part to the brand’s early success by-the-glass in restaurants. Single-entry brands Custard Chardonnay and Gunsight Rock Cabernet Sauvignon have also been strong.

“On-premise has been a huge focus for us. Part of the reason we established New House Vintners was driven by our need to generate more business on-premise,” says Sebastiani. The portfolio’s Queens Peak brand is on-premise-only, as is Il Donato Pinot Grigio. The company is also bolstering its on-premise presence with its wine-on-tap program in partnership with Napa-based kegging provider Free Flow Wines. Custard, The Crusher and Don & Sons Sonoma Signature Series Pinot Noir are currently available in kegs, and the company is targeting a 26% rise next year for its wine-on-tap business—to more than 1,200 kegs (holding the equivalent of about 26 bottles each).

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