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Interview, Part 2: Deutsch Family President Tom Steffanci

September 5, 2019

In the second part of our interview, Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits president Tom Steffanci discusses the company’s moves in spirits, as well as developments across its portfolio of on-premise-focused wine brands.

SND: How is progress on the spirits side of the Deutsch portfolio?

Steffanci: We’ve sharpened our focus on whiskey. Redemption was the first entry into that. The brand was at about 14,000 cases when we bought it, and we did 67,000 cases in 2018 on growth of 23%. Similar growth is forecast for the current year. With our base tier Bourbon, High Rye Bourbon, and Rye, we’re in a good place in terms of supply. We also have 10-year-old, Barrel Proof items across the three different mashbills that we release each year, and we have a lot of wheated Bourbon laid down. Bib & Tucker (acquired from 3 Badge Beverage in 2017) has been a pleasant surprise. Our master blender, working with folks at Tennessee Distilling, created a mashbill that we’re very excited about, so we’ll have full control over our long-term supply. Shorter-term supply is a little bit of a challenge, but we think Bib & Tucker has a very bright future. We’re resisting the temptation to line extend and innovate, just until stock levels catch up.

SND: Last year, you expanded your Provence rosé, Fleurs de Prairie, nationally. How has it performed since then?

Steffanci: Provence has certainly presented its challenges, but Fleurs de Prairie has done very well. We did have some out of stock conditions last fall. We’ll probably barely have enough wine to get through the holiday season but it’s been tremendously successful. We expect that to do about 90,000 cases, adding about 20,000 cases to the total even after a significant price increase.

SND: Which wine brands are making inroads on-premise?

Steffanci: We do about 16% of our business on-premise, so it’s slightly underdeveloped, but it’s an area of significant investment. Barone Fini is at about 125,000 cases, and almost half the volume is done on-premise. This is among the most successful by-the-glass offerings in the market. The Crossings is very similar to Barone Fini, doing about 40% of its volume in restaurants. We continue to see high single-digit growth on Crossings. The Calling is our joint venture with Jim Nantz, sportscaster extraordinaire, who has become very close friends with our CEO and co-owner, Peter Deutsch. The brand has never had a year when it hasn’t grown by double digits. We have a Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, and we’ll soon be offering a Pinot Noir from Monterey County that will allow us access to more by-the-glass business. That will launch this fall.—Shane English

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