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Pernod Ricard’s Kenwood Embraces Premiumization

April 5, 2017

Kenwood Vineyards has embarked on an aggressive premiumization effort since Pernod Ricard acquired the Sonoma-based winemaker in 2014 from F. Korbel & Bros. Since then, Kenwood has added more direct-to-consumer single-vineyard wines and a nationally-distributed premium range—Six Ridges—from some of Sonoma County’s most notable appellations.

In 2016, Kenwood depleted about 430,000 cases, down 6% from the previous year. According to winemaker Pat Henderson, the winery’s license allows it to produce only 500,000 cases, so the company must continue to premiumize if it wishes to grow in profitability. Henderson tells SND that Kenwood’s future will include more appellation-specific and single-vineyard entries, with fewer bottlings sourced from across California.

”If we can replace the one-third of our business that is ‘California’ product with Six Ridges and Single Vineyard wines we’ll grow quite a bit in profitability,” Henderson says. “Quite frankly the real estate in Sonoma is too valuable to be making ‘California’-appellated wine.” Kenwood launched its Six Ridges collection last year, including offerings from Alexander Valley, Russian River and Dry Creek Valley retailing from $20-$30 a bottle. “Six Ridges is our premium tier,” Henderson notes, priced above the Sonoma County tier and below the Artist Series and Single Vineyards.

Kenwood is also promoting single-vineyard offerings such as its Yoakim Bridge Cabernet Sauvignon, Riciola Sauvignon Blanc, Green Valley Chardonnay, Olivet Pinot Noir and others, which are sold exclusively through the winery. “We’ve been making wine from these vineyards for decades but we’ve only been selling them as single-vineyard bottlings for two years now,” Henderson notes.

In addition to the premiumization push, Kenwood is investing in its guest experience, emphasizing the winery as a destination. “We’re in the process of putting in a new visitor center and tasting room,” said Henderson. The new facility will be built into the landscape, featuring a living roof that blends into the hillside. —Shane English

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