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Don Sebastiani & Sons Sees Strong Growth For Trio Of Focus Brands

October 8, 2019

California winemaker Don Sebastiani & Sons is seeing strong gains for three of its key wine brands: B Side, Simple Life, and The Crusher. Combined, the three wines soared by 24% in the first six months of 2019, the company tells SND. Don & Sons president and CEO Donny Sebastiani projects about 13% growth to just under 200,000 cases this year for the three brands combined, with Simple Life the largest of the three at about 80,000 cases.

Simple Life ($13-$16 a 750-ml.) has grown by 52% over the past year, according to Nielsen. The strong progress is thanks in large part to heightened marketing efforts in multiple national grocery chains, including HEB, Publix, and Albertsons. Additionally, Sebastiani says the brand’s foundation—Pinot Noir—continues to play an integral role, skyrocketing by 200% since last year. Aside from Pinot Noir, the Simple Life portfolio includes California-sourced rosé, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

B Side is also posting robust gains, rising by 69% in Nielsen channels in the first half, driven by its super-premium pricing ($15-$20 a 750-ml.), North Coast appellation, and, more recently, two new products. “B Side Cabernet Sauvignon has historically been the leader, but there’s now a lot of momentum with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which are driving total brand growth,” says Sebastiani.

The Crusher ($18), which is up 10% from last year, is also a California-appellated brand, with some eight wines in its lineup. Even as red wines spur growth for the company’s other brands, The Crusher is currently benefiting largely from a white varietal. “The label’s Sauvignon Blanc brought some new excitement to the portfolio last year, and has doubled in volume since launching,” Sebastiani says, adding that the wine is positioned to be a growth driver moving forward. The company’s keg business has also contributed to its gains, and Sebastiani is eyeing several additional placements before the end of the year.

Don & Sons has also dipped into the spirits business with two Tequilas, Contigo Plata ($35) and El Macho Añejo ($60). Sebastiani notes that the company’s focus is on building both brands in high-profile “tastemaker” accounts in key markets throughout the U.S. and reinforcing quality distribution, in partnership with 3 Badge Beverage Group—founded by Sebastiani’s brother, August. Both labels launched in 2017, with Contigo posting 10,000 cases in its initial year, and El Macho coming in at just over 2,000 cases. The Tequilas are produced at Destiladora del Valle de Tequila.—Julia Higgins

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