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

News Briefs for February 11, 2016

February 11, 2016

•The dilemma facing bankrupt Premier Cru, once a titan among wine retailers, boasting customers all over the globe, has taken a turn for the worse. FBI spokesperson Michele Ernst told Wine Spectator that the bureau “is investigating claims of a Ponzi scheme involving the Berkeley, [Calif.], wine company.” Michael Kasolas, Premier Cru’s Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee, confirmed in a Feb. 5 court filing that he is “cooperating with the FBI.” Wine Spectator has the full story.

•Binny’s Beverage Depot will open its newest store in Mokena, Illinois on Friday, bringing the Chicago-based beverage retail chain’s store count to 32. Located at 21410 Wolf Road, the 14,000-square-foot store will offer more than 8,000 wines, distilled spirits and beers. Store highlights include an 18-door beer cooler, a temperature-controlled wine cellar with hundreds of rare and collectible wines, a high-end spirits room and a walk-in humidor.

•Brown-Forman’s Jack Daniel Distillery is set to undergo a $140 million expansion, including two new barrelhouses and enhanced bottling and shipping capacity. The investment follows a $103 million outlay on the same facility less than three years ago. Brown-Forman says the expansion will help Jack Daniel’s meet future demand for its whiskey, which has risen by 27% globally since 2010, surpassing 12 million cases in 2015, according to Impact Databank.

•French wine and spirits exporters have reported a sales increase of 8.7% to €11.7 billion ($13.2b) for 2015, even as volumes fell 3.6%, according to the Fédération des Exportateurs de Vins & Spiritueux de France trade group. The U.S. remained the top export market for French wine and spirits, with shipments increasing 28.1% to €2.6 billion ($2.9b). Growth was driven in part by a relatively weak euro, as well as robust demand for Champagne and Cognac. Overall, French Champagne exports rose 12.1% by value and 4.8% by volume, while Cognac was up 19.6% by value and 9.4% by volume on the year prior.

•New Zealand-based Stolen Spirits has joined the Blackheath Beverage portfolio in the U.S. Beginning in the first quarter of this year, Blackheath will focus on growing Stolen Smoked Rum in New York, Florida, California, Massachusetts and Illinois. Last November, Stolen received a $14 million investment from Liquid Asset Brands, led by former Angel’s Envy partner Marc Bushala.

•California’s J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines has promoted Rhonda Motil to vice president of marketing. She succeeds second-generation J. Lohr family owner Cynthia Lohr, who recently transitioned to the role of trade and brand advocate for the winery. Motil most recently was senior marketing director.


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