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Exclusive: Gallo, Constellation Claim Nearly Half Of Domestic Wine’s “Hot Brands”

March 15, 2016

It’s no secret that E.&J. Gallo Winery and Constellation Brands are powerhouses in the U.S. wine market. Indeed, the two companies comprise more than 35% of the market’s volume, according to Impact Databank. When it comes to fast-rising brands, Gallo and Constellation are especially prominent, accounting for nine of this year’s 20 domestic wine “Hot Brands.”

At more than 18 million nine-liter cases, Gallo’s Barefoot Cellars is easily the largest player on this year’s Hot Brands list. Barefoot’s sustained success is driven in part by its accessible pricing and approachable image. “(Barefoot Cellars) continues to resonate with consumers who share our belief that wine should be fun, less serious and always varietal-correct,” says Stephanie Gallo, vice president of marketing for E.&J. Gallo Winery.

Gallo boasts six domestic wine Hot Brands, with Liberty Creek, Apothic, Dark Horse, Carnivor and William Hill Estate all returning to the list from last year. Dark Horse—which only expanded its reach nationwide last spring—has grown at a particularly breakneck pace, jumping from 5,000 cases in 2012 to 875,000 cases last year, according to Impact Databank. Retailing at around $10, Dark Horse is led by its Cabernet Sauvignon, and also includes Chardonnay, Merlot and a red blend. Another Cabernet Sauvignon-focused range, Carnivor ($15 a 750-ml.) is also demonstrating significant gains—up more than 50% in 2015—thanks in part to its strong appeal among Millennials. And at the higher end, Gallo’s William Hill Estate (around $17- $60) is showing similar double-digit traction.

Constellation has three domestic wine Hot Brands, including Black Box ($24.99 a 3-liter box). The brand, which features nine varietals and a red blend, topped 4 million cases in 2014 and added another 400,000 cases last year. Black Box has also launched select varietals in a 500-ml. Tetra Pak format.

Meiomi, which Constellation purchased from Joe Wagner’s Copper Cane Wines & Provisions for $315 million last year, also earned Hot Brand status. Launched in 2009, the brand sold an impressive 90,000 cases in 2010—its first full year on the market. Meiomi—which retails at around $25 and is best known for its flagship Pinot Noir—has continued to thrive, with the brand up 58% to 790,000 cases in 2015.

Also posting strong progress is Constellation’s The Dreaming Tree, which debuted 2011 in collaboration with musician Dave Matthews and is poised to cross half a million cases. Retailing at $15 a 750-ml., the California brand has carved out a niche among eco-conscious consumers, playing up the fact that its bottles are 50% lighter than the average wine bottle and feature sustainably grown cork and labels made from 100% recycled paper.

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