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Exclusive: Copper Cane Launches Böen Tri-County Pinot Noir And Chardonnay, Taking Aim At Meiomi

August 1, 2019

In 2015, Copper Cane Wines & Provisions founder Joe Wagner sold the Meiomi brand to Constellation in a $315 million deal. Under the agreement, Wagner was restricted from competing head-to-head with Meiomi for a period of four years. As of today, that non-compete agreement has expired, and Wagner has launched new Pinot Noir and Chardonnay offerings under his Böen label, positioned similarly to Meiomi in the $25 retail tier. SND executive editor Daniel Marsteller recently spoke with Wagner to hear about the new Böen wines and other developments across the Copper Cane portfolio.

SND: What are your goals for the new wines from Böen?

Wagner: After the sale of Meiomi, Böen was the first brand that we created. Böen means ‘the farm,’ and the name was a testament to my family’s farming roots and also exemplified what we wanted to do next—acquire vineyards and become more self-sustained. One goal of mine is to produce all of our wines from grapes that we grow internally, and we’re on that path. Böen was the beginning of that. It launched with a Russian River Valley Pinot Noir in 2015, and we added Santa Lucia Highlands and Santa Maria Valley offerings for the 2016 vintage (all $35). Now that the non-compete agreement from the Meiomi deal is up, we’re able to come out with wines that take all three regions of Sonoma, Santa Barbara, and Monterey and blend them together to create this coastal Pinot Noir and Chardonnay ($25). We had a carve-out so that we were able to release a small amount initially to the on-premise, and have now reached the point where we can take it into the broader market. For the first year, we’re looking at somewhere around 40,000 cases.

SND: What marketing components are backing the launch?

Wagner: The new Böen Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the first wines on the market to feature the eWak closure from Guala. In the eWak, there’s a medallion on the top of the screwcap that contains an NFC chip. When you “tap the cap” with your phone it brings up our Boën Farmhouse, which has a number of different rooms and sections offering education and information about the wines. There’s a section dedicated to the vineyards; you have the Veranda, which allows people to communicate with us and each other about the wine; there’s a Pantry focused on food pairings; and there’s a Wine Cellar where you can catalogue what you’ve been drinking. All Android phones have the technology to communicate with the cap, and iPhones 8 and up have it. One of the unique things about this is that it eliminates the need for downloading an app, as the augmented reality offerings on the market require.

SND: Elsewhere in the portfolio, how have your Belle Glos and Elouan brands been faring?

Wagner: Belle Glos has had an amazing run. We can only grow so much due to being vineyard designated, but it’s a brand that has been pulling Pinot Noir consumers up into higher price points. We’re going to be reintroducing Belle Glos Taylor Lane Vineyard, a bottling we haven’t produced for years. It’s a very different wine from the opulent style that we’re known for. Elouan (up 20% to 90,000 cases in 2018, according to Impact Databank) has become one of the leading by-the-glass Pinots out there and it has helped bring Oregon into the national spotlight. While the Willamette Valley is the main name in Oregon, the Rogue Valley and Umpqua Valley just to the south have started to produce some amazing Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs as well, with new plantings coming in. Elouan is now the third-ranked Pinot Noir in Nielsen at $17-$19.99.

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