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A Year After TSG Acquisition, Duckhorn Continues Steady Growth

July 25, 2017

Last August, TSG Consumer Partners acquired Napa’s Duckhorn Wine Company. Since then, not much in the day-to-day has changed for the winery, which is currently eyeing yet another year of double-digit growth for its Duckhorn and Decoy by Duckhorn brands.

“TSG likes to challenge us on ideas of consumer branded product strategies they’ve used, but they’ve brought very little change to what we do and have been doing for 40 years,” says Duckhorn president and CEO Alex Ryan. “We’re still a wine company, focused on making and distributing great wine.”

After considerable gains in 2015, Decoy ($20-$25 a 750-ml.) soared by 19% to 484,000 cases in 2016, according to Impact Databank. Similarly, the winery’s flagship Duckhorn label ($30-$135) surged by 12% to 137,000 cases in 2016, following a 19% jump the previous year. Those two brands account for 60%-70% of the company’s business.

Duckhorn’s four boutique labels are also flourishing. As Canvasback—a Washington-based, Cabernet-centric label priced at $40 a 750-ml.—continues recording solid growth, Duckhorn has focused on expanding the brand’s national footprint. For the current 2014 vintage, Canvasback’s production was roughly 15,000 cases, up from 2,000 cases two years earlier.

Following its repositioning from Napa Valley Zinfandel to Cabernet last year, Ryan says the Paraduxx brand ($48) has filled a price point void in the market, boosting its popularity. Goldeneye ($55-$155), which includes estate grown Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley, and Migration ($32-$55), focused on Russian River Valley Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, round out Duckhorn’s portfolio.

Looking ahead, Duckhorn’s agenda includes an expansion of the sales team and pursuing new sales channels. For example, Ryan sees “huge opportunity” in accounts that sell wine for both on- and off-premise consumption—Duckhorn is currently in less than 10% of the 500,000 such accounts in the U.S.

Ryan adds that more active involvement in export markets will also be key for Duckhorn in the future. Currently, its wines are available in 50 countries—Canada is the company’s largest trade partner, and Asia also plays an important role. In the coming years, Ryan hopes to grow the winery’s export presence in Southeast Asia, Northern Europe and beyond.—Julia Higgins

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