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Guarachi Expands California Portfolio As South American Categories Struggle

October 16, 2019

Los Angeles, California-based Guarachi Wine Partners has long been known for Chilean and Argentinian wines, but lately founder Alex Guarachi has placed greater emphasis on developing the company’s domestic offerings. Currently, imports comprise 75% of business, while domestic wines are 25%. By the end of the year Guarachi is aiming for a 70-30 split.

The company’s namesake, California-based Guarachi Family Wines brand focuses on luxury Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and Sonoma Pinot Noir from Guarachi’s two estate vineyards: the 62-acre Meadowrock in Napa Valley’s Atlas Peak appellation, and the 42-acre Sun Chase in Sonoma’s Petaluma Gap AVA. In addition to Cabernet, Guarachi has planted Syrah, Merlot, and Petit Verdot at Meadowrock, using the varietals in a blend called G by Alex Guarachi. The company also recently took a 50% stake in 360 acres in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, with plans to release a new Pinot Noir. While overall volumes remain small for the upscale domestic range, Guarachi tells SND he sees potential for considerable growth moving forward.

In the super-premium tier, Guarachi says he’s banking on Paso Robles as the next frontier for Cabernet. The company’s Tenshen label ($25 a 750-ml.) includes a new Cabernet made from 100% Paso fruit, as well as a red blend, white blend, and rosé. Tenshen was up 9% to 18,000 cases last year, according to Impact Databank.

Lower on the price ladder, Guarachi Wine Partners is launching Black Ink, a California-sourced red blend that retails at $10. Aimed at millennials, the wine features an inventive label with tattoo imagery and peel-off tattoos attached. Meanwhile, a year ago, Guarachi acquired the Parker Station label from Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard for an undisclosed sum, further bolstering its position in Pinot Noir.

Guarachi acknowledges that part of the move toward domestic wines has come as a result of the difficulties South American labels are confronting in the U.S. Ultimately, though, market trends have led the company to embrace higher-end offerings from both Chile and Argentina. Guarachi recently took Chilean winery Vik under its umbrella, offering red blends Milla Calla, Vik, and La Piu Belle, all of which retail just shy of $200 a 750-ml. “To me, Vik is akin to first-growth Bordeaux, except it’s from Chile,” says Guarachi. “Their products are somewhat limited here in the U.S., which poses a marketing challenge, but the quality is incredible.”

The company’s No.-1 brand remains Argentina’s Bodega Norton at around 150,000 cases, with top-performing SKU Reserve Malbec still experiencing solid growth. Elsewhere in the import portfolio, Guarachi notes that a new—as yet unidentified—Spanish label will be coming onboard soon.—Julia Higgins

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