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Schramsberg Stakes Out Ground At Domestic Sparkling Wine’s High End

July 19, 2019

In value terms, the upscale sparkling wine market in the U.S. continues to be led by Champagne brands like Veuve Clicquot and Moët & Chandon, but higher-end domestic bubblies have also been gaining ground, with Napa Valley-based Schramsberg at the forefront.

Schramsberg’s depletions are nearing the 90,000-case mark, according to second-generation family member Hugh Davies. While the brand’s flagship Blanc de Blancs ($35) leads the portfolio in volume terms, with depletions of approximately 35,000 cases last year, Davies sees room for experimentation and growth at the higher end, particularly among aged sparklers.

“There’s a real market for aging sparkling wines longer,” Davies says. “We’re working each year to fine-tune our program and broaden the range with more aged wines.” Among the brand’s recent ultra-aged releases is a 2000 vintage of J. Schram, which matured for 17 years on the yeast in the bottle. Schramsberg has also experimented with late-disgorgement offerings, releasing wines that were disgorged 25- and 30-years after their initial bottling.

While Schramberg’s wines in the $55-$175 range remain strong in DTC, Davies says the winery is also focusing on building its upscale portfolio in the three-tier channel, in partnership with distributor Wilson Daniels. “We’ve had some success thus far in securing special by-the-glass placements with those wines that retail for over $100 a bottle, so we’re now working on better connecting with some of the best restaurants around the country,” Davies notes.

“Schramsberg ranked fifth in dollar terms out of all sparkling brands in the $20-$60 segment in Nielsen last year,” adds Wilson Daniels president Rocco Lombardo. “If there’s a brand that represents the premium sparkling business in America, it’s definitely Schramsberg.”

On the red wine front, Schramsberg’s sister brand Davies Vineyards is also innovating, with a new Coombsville-sourced Cabernet Sauvignon set to debut later this year. Currently, the Davies Vineyards portfolio features seven Cabernet Sauvignon offerings ($55-$210) as well as several iterations of Pinot Noir. For Pinot, Davies notes that a new offering from the Three Amigos Vineyard in Carneros will roll out toward the end of the year.

While the vast majority of Davies Vineyards’ grapes are sourced, the winery is developing its own vineyard holdings as well—Davies recently acquired 14 acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on the Sonoma Coast, which will support both a vineyard designated wine and the sparkling program. The winery is also expanding its barrel building and production facility in St. Helena, in a project set to finish next month.—Julia Higgins

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