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News Briefs for July 26, 2018

July 26, 2018

•Washington state-based Ste. Michelle Wine Estates is enjoying a solid rebound so far in 2018, posting a net revenue rise of 6.2% to $308 million for the six months ended June 30. Shipments also rose in the first half, up 6.2% to roughly 3.7 million cases, according to parent group Altria. Progress was bolstered by strong second quarter growth, with revenue surging 10.7% to $166 million and shipments up 6.3% to 1.9 million cases over the three-month period. The turnaround follows a year of declining revenue and volume for the company—whose portfolio includes the Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Crest, and 14 Hands brands, among others—last year. For 2017, Ste. Michelle was down 8.6% to 8.5 million cases in the U.S., according to Impact Databank.

•Paumanok Vineyards is purchasing one of its neighbors, Palmer Vineyards. Both wineries are located in Aquebogue, N.Y., on Long Island’s North Fork. Paumanok will acquire Palmer’s 60-acre estate, including its 49-acre vineyard, winery, and inventory. The sale will close Aug. 1; the price was not disclosed. Wine Spectator has the full story.

•California-based O’Neill Vintners & Distillers has debuted Exitus, a new barrel-aged red wine. A blend of Zinfandel, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, and Merlot, Exitus was fermented in stainless steel tanks and spent three months aging in Kentucky Bourbon barrels. The new wine is rolling out nationwide, retail priced at $26 a 750-ml. O’Neill is known for both branded and private label wines, including its Line 39, Austerity, Backhouse, and Redtree brands.

•Smirnoff vodka is launching a series of redesigned labels that highlight different locales across North America. The first two designs, one each for California and Chicago, are available in the off-premise through November. The fronts of the bottles feature copy tailored to the location—for instance, the California bottle references Hollywood and Silicon Valley—with a black-and-white photo of the region on the back. Diageo-owned Smirnoff, the largest spirits brand in the U.S., was down 1.8% to 9.2 million cases, according to Impact Databank.

•Accolade Wines North America has extended Italian wine brand Da Luca with a sparkling rosé. Sourced from Italy’s Veneto region, Da Luca Sparkling Rosé is a blend of Merlot and Raboso, and joins Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, and Prosecco offerings in the Da Luca portfolio. Accolade’s lineup also includes Australian label Banrock Station, California-based Geyser Peak, and New Zealand’s Waipara Hills. The Carlyle Group acquired Australia-based Accolade earlier this year for $770 million.

•Ste. Michelle Wine Estates has named Katie Nelson senior director of winemaking for its Columbia Crest wine brand. The appointment marks a return to Ste. Michelle for Nelson, who previously served with the company before departing to become as associate winemaker for the K Vintners, Charles Smith Wines, and Wines of Substance brands in 2015. She takes over the winemaking duties at Columbia Crest from Juan Muñoz-Oca, who was recently promoted to vice president of winemaking at Ste. Michelle. In his new role, Muñoz-Oca serves as head winemaker for the group’s Intrinsic and Borne of Fire brands, while also remaining involved with the rest of the Ste. Michelle portfolio, including Columbia Crest.

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