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News Briefs for July 27, 2016

July 27, 2016

•Solid growth for its core brands propelled Ste. Michelle to a 7.1% sales increase to $316 million in the first half of 2016, the Washington winemaker’s parent company—Altria Corp.—reported earlier today. Ste. Michelle’s wine shipments grew by 5.5% to nearly 4 million cases in the six-month period, although growth slowed in the second quarter, when shipments were up by 3.4%. Each of the three brands that comprise the vast majority of Ste. Michelle’s sales—Chateau Ste. Michelle (+7.2%), 14 Hands (+11.2%) and Columbia Crest (+1.9%) achieved depletions growth in 2015, according to Impact Databank.

•Denis Dubourdieu, a Bordeaux vigneron and one of the region’s most prominent academics and winemaking consultants of the last 40 years, died this week following a protracted battle with brain cancer. He was 67. Wine Spectator looks back at Dubourdieu’s life and work.

•New Jersey-based Niche Import Co. has added a pair of Irish whiskey labels from Redcross, County Wicklow-based Barr an Uisce to its portfolio. Barr an Uisce’s signature blend, Wicklow Rare ($50), is aged in first-fill Bourbon barrels and finished in Oloroso casks for six months, while portfoliomate 1803 ($80) is a 10-year-old single malt Irish whiskey also matured in first-fill Bourbon casks. Barr an Uisce’s Wicklow Rare and 1803 join Niche Import’s existing whisk(e)y lineup, which includes the Old St. Andrews Scotch brand.

•Rutherford Wine Co. has launched a new red blend, Two Range Red, retailing at $25 a bottle. The Napa Valley-sourced Two Range is a blend of Petite Sirah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Rutherford Wine Co.’s portfolio also includes Rutherford Ranch Winery, Scott Family Estate, Predator Wines, Lander-Jenkins, Rhiannon, Silver Buckle, Round Hill and private label offerings.

•Cheryl Henry has been named president and COO of Ruth’s Hospitality Group Inc. Henry, who was previously chief branding officer and SVP, will continue to work closely with company chairman and CEO Michael O’Donnell. Winter Park, Florida-based Ruth’s Hospitality has 145 company-owned or franchised Ruth’s Chris Steak House locations worldwide.

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