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Banfi’s Pacific Northwest Portfolio In Expansion Mode

June 20, 2017

While Banfi Vintners’ core business remains focused on Italian imports, the company is also on the move in the domestic arena with its Pacific Northwest portfolio, including the Pacific Rim and Sweet Bliss brands from Washington as well as Oregon’s Rainstorm.

“The domestic portfolio is starting to play a bigger role within our organization as we focus on getting deeper with the Pacific Northwest wines,” notes Banfi co-CEO Cristina Mariani May. “It’s smaller (than our Italian wine business), but it’s growing.” About 10% of Banfi’s current portfolio is in domestic wines.

The largest of Banfi’s Pacific Northwest brands is Washington’s Pacific Rim, which is known for its diverse expressions of Riesling from the Yakima and Horse Heaven Hills AVAs. Pacific Rim ($13-$15) jumped 20% to 113,000 cases in the U.S. last year, according to Impact Databank.

Meanwhile, Banfi is working to grow Oregon-based Rainstorm into a national brand after testing it in select markets the past two years. In 2016, Rainstorm grew 25% to 20,000 cases. Banfi is currently rolling out new packaging on Rainstorm’s Pinot Noir ($17) and Pinot Gris ($14), which has been well-received in the early going. Earlier this month, the Marianis acquired Willamette Valley-based Firesteed Winery, which will become Rainstorm’s new brand home, along with 30 acres of vineyards. That move will result in Rainstorm being extended with more specific Oregon AVA-designated labels looking ahead.

As it nurtures its growing Pacific Northwest business, Banfi is also tapping key trends in other categories. The company’s Unparalleled ($20) label—currently at 6,000 cases—features wines from multiple countries, such as a Tuscan red blend, a Central Coast Cabernet and a Provence Rosé, with the latter performing especially well. Banfi is also catering to the trend toward organic products with its Chilean-sourced Natura range, which rose 4% to 105,000 cases last year. Natura ($12) is preparing the launch of a biodynamic sparkling wine, and is seeing good progress for its Organic Rosé. “We’re seeing a completely new perception of organic wines over the past few years,” says Mariani May. “Consumer demand is finally being acknowledged by retailers and sommeliers.”—Kimberly Tharel

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