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California’s WX Brands Sees Its Bread & Butter Label Drive Expansion

August 28, 2018

Novato, California-based WX Brands, formerly known as Winery Exchange, has long been known as a private label producer, making house labels for retailers like ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, Albertsons, Trader Joe’s, and many others. But in recent years, the company has set about growing its own brands, including such rapidly expanding franchises as Bread & Butter and Chronic Cellars.

Bread & Butter ($15), which WX Brands acquired in March of 2017, grew from just under 88,000 cases in 2015 to nearly 200,000 cases last year. The brand is led by its Chardonnay expression and supported by a Pinot Noir and a new Cabernet Sauvignon, which is currently available in select markets. WX Brands CEO Peter Byck estimates that Bread & Butter could deplete over 300,000 cases this year.

Byck says the next move for Bread & Butter is a national push for the newly launched Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as out-of-home advertising in the brand’s key markets to promote all three varietals. Bread & Butter is particularly strong in chains and in the northeastern U.S., Byck adds.

WX Brands’ Chronic Cellars label, meanwhile, is targeting 80,000 cases in the U.S. this year, after climbing 39% to 58,000 cases in 2017. Chronic is sourced from Paso Robles and made by brothers Josh and Jake Beckett. WX acquired the brand in April of 2014, but the Becketts are still the driving force behind it, Byck notes.

WX Brands is relatively new to owning and operating national brands, and didn’t acquire its first proprietary brand, Echelon Vineyards, until 2011. Since then, the company has expanded its proprietary offerings, which now account for around half of total company volume. “Our idea was to create a dual companion growth strategy,” Byck says. “We’re able to build the national brand portfolio with our winemaking expertise—and with the trade relationships we’ve developed from our (private label) business.”

While building its own brands, WX continues to be a major producer of retailer labels. “We’re doing a lot of programs from France, Italy, and Spain, and we’re also very strong in sourcing from New Zealand and South America,” Byck says. “We really cover the world. We’re a one-stop shop for our retail partners.”—Shane English

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