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Interview, Part 1: Chris Indelicato, President And CEO, Delicato Family Wines

November 4, 2019

California’s Delicato Family Wines has been on a remarkable growth run, with volume roughly tripling from 4 million cases in 2010 to approximately 12 million cases currently. While the family-owned winery has diversified recently, gaining a foothold in both domestic and imported fine wines, its breadwinner remains the Bota Box label, which has earned multiple Impact “Hot Brand” awards on its way to a projected 8 million cases this year. The majority of volume remains in the core 3-liter ($23), but Bota has also expanded into newer formats like 1.5-liter boxes and 500-ml. Tetra Paks. Meanwhile, the brand’s Nighthawk extension—geared toward bolder flavor profiles—is now releasing three new offerings: a Bourbon Barrel Aged Cabernet Sauvignon, Lush Pinot Noir, and Vibrant Sauvignon Blanc. Overall, Delicato is investing $10 million this year in Bota Box, including a new ad campaign that debuted in August. SND executive editor Daniel Marsteller recently caught up with president and CEO Chris Indelicato for an update.

SND: Alternative packaging—one of Bota Box’s hallmarks—has been a growth area for the wine category lately. Where are consumers gravitating within the portfolio?

Indelicato: Our 500-ml. has taken off alongside the 3-liter. In Nielsen data the 500-ml. has been accelerating, up 35% over the last 52 weeks, 40% over the last 26 weeks, and now 50% over the last 13 weeks. It’s starting to appear in the cold box at retailers next to the canned wines and the 187-ml. and 375-ml. sizes. The 1.5-liter is doing fine as well, so across the brand Bota Box has a very strong position in alternative packaging. And the core offering took over as the top 3-liter in the category this summer. Overall, Bota has been growing at around 17%-18% over the past 52 weeks, which is becoming harder and harder to do as the industry appears to have decelerated a bit.

SND: How does the Nighthawk range differ from the core brand?

Indelicato: Nighthawk is aimed at the 21-24-year-old consumer who’s looking for a bigger, bolder flavor—things like a rich Pinot Noir, buttery Chardonnay, or Bourbon barrel-aged Cabernet. We’ll now have an entry in each of those flavor profiles. Nighthawk will be over 1 million cases this year, and what’s interesting is that we’re not seeing any cannibalization of our other SKUs. It’s a different consumer. According to our research, 77% of Nighthawk’s volume is coming from other brands and sizes, and 45% is coming from glass bottles. It’s bringing new consumers into the wine category, which is badly needed right now.

SND: Where are you targeting investments to continue Bota Box’s momentum?

Indelicato: With the “This is how we Bota” campaign, the first measure is how it’s being embraced by the retailer, and so far the feedback has been great. It’s incumbent on us as a category leader to step up and spend the money to meet the consumer where they’re shopping. We’re also investing in our production facilities. In August, we brought a new 730,000-square-foot warehouse and bottling facility online, and we can scale that up to 20 million cases. We learned more than a decade ago that the 3-liter box drinker is discerning about quality wine, so we’ll keep investing to make sure we continue to meet that demand.

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