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

News Briefs for May 1, 2017

May 1, 2017

•Angelo Gaja, the Piedmont winemaking legend who for more than 50 years has helped lead Italy’s quality wine movement, announced this week that he is investing on Sicily’s Mount Etna by forming a joint venture with Etna producer Alberto Graci. Gaja, 77, and Graci, 41, purchased 51 acres together on the active volcano’s southwest face in Biancavilla. The site includes about 27 acres of vineyards in production with Etna indigenous varieties Carricante and Nerello Mascalese. The winemakers plan to plant another 10 acres, and eventually build a winery for their new company.Wine Spectator has more.

•David Ravandi, co-founder of the Casa Noble Tequila brand that was acquired by Constellation in 2014, has formed a new company, 123 Spirits. Ravandi’s flagship 123 Organic label includes blanco, reposado, añejo and extra añejo Tequilas ranging from $45-$150 at retail. The stable also includes El Luchador Organic Tequila Blanco 110 ($55) and Cráneo Organic Mezcal ($60). 123 Spirits has a distribution footprint of 28 states.

•Sausalito, California-based importer Vine Connections has added Argentine winery Casarena to its portfolio. Based in Mendoza’s Luján de Cuyo region, Casarena includes single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec that retails at around $30 a 750-ml. A new Areyna tier featuring the same varietals and retailing at $15 will be added in May. Casarena’s wines will initially launch in 13 states, with further expansion planned.

•Labatt USA, part of North American Breweries, announced plans to open the “John Labatt House,” which will include a restaurant, a small test brewery and company headquarters. Located in Buffalo, New York, the project is part of Pegula Sports and Entertainment’s redevelopment of a five-story warehouse in the city’s Cobblestone District, and will cost over $10 million. The restaurant will function as a space for beer drinkers to taste, experience and influence new beer development for Labatt, while the test brewery will develop and test new products prior to introducing them to the market. The new headquarters is projected to open in fall 2018, ahead of the restaurant and brewery.

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