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Winesellers Ltd. Sees Solid Growth Trends Heading Into The Holidays

November 25, 2019

With a portfolio of approximately 750,000 cases, Illinois-based Winesellers Ltd. is well-represented across a number of imported wine segments, including France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Argentina, and New Zealand. While the company is wary of how the new U.S. tariffs on French, Spanish, and German wines will impact the import market, it’s currently enjoying solid growth for a number of key brands in the range.

Three import labels in particular have been driving gains for Winesellers: New Zealand’s Sea Pearl, Southern France label Mont Gravet, and Cava brand Mas Fi. The trio has advanced by a collective 50% in the last three years and is projected to surpass 100,000 cases by the end of 2019.

Mont Gravet has been growing at double-digit rates, albeit from a small base, but is now above 50,000 cases. The flagship Mont Gravet Rosé Pays d’Oc ($10) is the primary driver, though two other offerings—the Cotes de Gascogne and Carignan (IGP Pays d’Herault) rosés—are also contributing. Across the Pyrenées, Mas Fi Cava ($12) is also in double-digit growth, spurred by its Brut and Brut Rosé bottlings. Winesellers president Adam Sager notes that sparkling wine continues to rise across the portfolio, which also includes Champagne Besserat de Bellefon and a handful of Argentine sparklers.

In the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc segment, Sea Pearl ($12 a 750-ml.) has received a boost in the on-premise from the recent launch of a keg format. “We’re finding, especially when categories are softening or flat, that having a range of size formats or a wine on tap can help open new doors,” Sager observes. Winesellers’ Santa Julia label from Argentina (currently at 190,000 cases in the U.S.) has also benefited from new formats, including 375-ml. cans and kegs, and advanced a healthy 4% in the first half of this year amid relatively sluggish conditions for South American wines overall.

Looking ahead, Winesellers is set to add two new wineries—Basque country’s Inazio Urruzola and Puglia’s Lupo Meraviglia—to its lineup in the new year. While the U.S. tariffs could start impacting imported wine prices starting next spring, Winesellers is working with its producers to mitigate the impact, although higher-end brands are likely to see prices rise considerably. “We’re hoping this is short-term, that it won’t last all of next year,” Sager says.—Julia Higgins

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