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

Rodney Strong’s Castaldi On Consolidation’s Effects And New Product Efforts

August 23, 2016

In the second part of this interview, Rodney Strong Wine Estates president Carmen Castaldi discusses the company’s outlook on distributor consolidation as well as new products and quality upgrades across its vineyard holdings.

SND: What big-picture issues are on your radar?

Castaldi: There’s a definite expansion in luxury and higher-priced wines, and we’re experiencing that ourselves. We’re seeing incredible growth in Pinot Noir, but we worry about over-saturation, as we saw with Merlot. On the retail side, grocery stores are bringing in a greater assortment. They’re managing their stock on a more timely basis, culling out nonperformers and bringing in new opportunity brands. The main issue of concern, as always, is the route to distribution and the continued consolidation of the three-tier system. We’ve added a layer of key account executives to call on regional grocery chains, in concert with our distributors. We’ve also dedicated similar resources to on-premise national accounts. We’re trying to take control of our destiny. It’s one way of mitigating the issues that come with consolidation.

SND: Do you have any new products in the pipeline?

Castaldi: We recently launched a new Estate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, as well as a new Knights Valley Cabernet. All three have been very well received. We’re introducing a luxury red blend from Cooley Ranch next spring—separate from the Rodney Strong brand and retailing at around $50. We’ve been wanting to launch a red blend for many years, but we didn’t want to do something faddish. Volume will start at a few thousand cases, sourced from 200 acres of vineyards within the 22,000-acre ranch north of Lake Sonoma. The vineyard can produce 50,000 cases, though it does also serve our Reserve wines and our Symmetry brand.

SND: Besides Cooley Ranch, how are you developing your other vineyards?

Castaldi: We have great estate vineyards, but if you want to make the best wines possible, you have to turn over all the stones. We think there’s an opportunity to look at our vineyards and apply a luxury strategy. We’re going through a meticulous redesigning of our vineyard protocol. We’re making several more passes with our vineyards so that we can be assured that we have the best possible quality. It’s an investment, but it will pay for itself when the wines come through. We started this process a couple of years ago, and we’re now applying it to our Brothers, Rockaway and Alexander’s Crown vineyards.

Subscribe to Shanken News Daily’s Email Newsletter, delivered to your inbox each morning.

Tagged : , , , , ,

GET YOUR FIRST LOOK AT 2021 DATA AND 2022 PROJECTIONS FOR THE WINE AND SPIRITS INDUSTRIES. ORDER YOUR 2022 IMPACT DATABANK REPORTS. CLICK HERE.

Previous :  Next :