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News Briefs for October 3, 2018

October 3, 2018

•On September 28, a federal judge ruled that Michigan’s ban on direct-to-consumer wine shipping from out-of-state retailers is unconstitutional. If the ruling stands, Michigan residents will be able to purchase wine from stores anywhere in the country and have it shipped to their homes. Robert Epstein, lawyer for Cap n’ Cork, an Indiana chain of wine stores and plaintiffs in the case, hopes it’s a bellwether for the shipping options of wine lovers across the country. “What has been accomplished is a first step in opening up shipping by retailers around the country to out-of-state clients,” Epstein said. Wine Spectator has the full story.

•The Winebow Group’s Leonardo LoCascio Selections (LLS) has added Tuscany’s ColleMassari Wine Estates to its portfolio. The family-owned ColleMassari lineup features four Tuscan properties: Castello ColleMassari in Maremma; Grattamacco in Bolgheri; and Poggio di Sotto and Tenuta San Giorgio in Montalcino. In total, LLS will bring 15 new wines from the four estates to the U.S. LLS imports more than 60 wineries from throughout Italy.

•Los Angeles, California’s Guarachi Wine Partners has acquired the Parker Station brand from Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard for an undisclosed sum. Guarachi, marketer of Guarachi Family Wines, Bodega Norton, Kaiken, and Montes, among others, will develop new markets for Parker Station and look to roll out the California Pinot Noir label nationally. Looking forward, Guarachi also plans to expand the brand to include Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Fess Parker will continue to produce Parker Station for the next five years.

•Beam Suntory’s House of Suntory has introduced two new spirits offerings. Made with six Japanese botanicals—sakura flower, sakura leaf, yuzu peel, sencha tea, gyokuro tea, and sansho pepper—Roku Gin is infused, distilled, and blended at Suntory’s Yamazaki distillery in Osaka, Japan. The 43%-abv gin is launching nationally at $28 a 750-ml. Also seeing its nationwide debut is Haku Vodka ($28), which is crafted from Japanese white rice. Haku is distilled twice and filtered through bamboo charcoal. House of Suntory’s portfolio also includes single malt whiskies Yamazaki and Hakushu, single grain whisky Chita, and blended whiskies Hibiki and Suntory Whisky Toki.

•The Vin de France category continues to see strong growth in the U.S., rising 45% to 850,000 cases in the six months through June, with value up 38% to $30 million, according to Anivin de France. Strong growth was seen in both single varietal wines and blends, the trade group noted. At 1.3 million cases in calendar 2017, the U.S. is the fifth-largest export market for Vin de France wines, which have a global volume of 21.8 million cases.

•E.&J. Gallo-owned New Amsterdam vodka has struck a multi-year deal to become the first official vodka sponsor of the National Hockey League (NHL). With this sponsorship agreement, New Amsterdam will gain in-game activations; launch a new multi-faceted campaign across broadcast, digital, and social channels; and debut a mix of retail programming, bar and restaurant visibility, hospitality, in-game assets, and TV promotion around premier NHL events. New Amsterdam sells approximately 5 million cases in the U.S. annually.

•Following yesterday’s news that Delicato Family Vineyards is challenging Treasury Wine Estates’ new EmBrazen brand in federal court for allegedly being too similar to Delicato’s Brazin label, Treasury has responded with a statement to SND. Denying the claims, Treasury said it is “at all times committed to complying with relevant trademark and regulatory requirements … has followed all necessary procedures in bringing the EmBrazen brand to market … and does not believe that it infringes any third party intellectual property rights. We will continue to defend our right to market and sell this brand,” the company concluded.

•Diageo unit Distill Ventures has appointed Heidi Dillon Otto as portfolio director, North America. Otto will lead the drinks accelerator’s non-alcoholic business and develop the company’s overall marketing strategy. Otto comes to Distill with decades of experience in branding and marketing, including time with Starbucks and Clif Bar’s Luna brand. The Distill Ventures portfolio includes non-alcoholic spirit Seedlip, Westward American single malt whiskey, Stauning whisky from Denmark, and Starward whisky from Australia, among others.

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