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Fetzer Vineyards’ 1000 Stories Label Showing Rapid Progress Since Its 2014 Launch

February 24, 2017

1000 Stories, the Bourbon-finished Zinfandel from California’s Fetzer Vineyards, has posted healthy growth in its first three years on the U.S. market, according to Impact Databank, with particularly strong acceleration in 2016. Introduced in 2014, 1000 Stories depleted just under 3,000 cases in its launch year, and then jumped to 15,000 cases in 2015. Last year the brand grew four-fold to 62,500 cases, qualifying it for status as an Impact “Hot Prospect.”

1000 Stories ($18.99 a 750-ml.) is aged in American and French oak barrels and finished in Bourbon barrels. The Bourbon barrel finishing is a nod to California history, echoing a time when the state’s winemakers relied on Bourbon barrels to age their wines. “Years ago, French oak barrels were almost unheard of in California wine country, and American oak barrels were for whiskey and not wine,” notes 1000 Stories winemaker Bob Blue. “So we purchased new and used Bourbon barrels in those days.”

After aging in American and French oak casks, 1000 Stories is finished in the Bourbon barrels for a month or two. The process lends herbal notes and a hint of Bourbon taste to the wine. The barrels come from Heaven Hill and Four Roses, among other Bourbon distillers, and have an average age of 13 years, giving the oak considerable seasoning. Production is done in small lots, similar to the methods of craft brewers and distillers.

The top markets for 1000 Stories are California, Florida, New York, Illinois and Texas. “The brand was focused on high-end independent accounts in those markets in its launch,” says Fetzer vice president of marketing Rodrigo Maturana, who adds that 1000 Stories is now in top chain accounts including Trader Joe’s, Target, Publix, Kroger and HEB. The sales split is 85% off-premise and 15% on-premise.

The 1000 Stories label sports an image of a bison, and as part of the brand’s social commitment theme, Fetzer contributes to the Wildlife Conservation Society and the American Bison Society, aiding in efforts to reintroduce bison to their natural habitats.

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