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On-Premise Specialist Mark Wine Group Looks To Ride Out The Crisis

April 7, 2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the shutdown of bars and restaurants, it’s having a ripple effect on other tiers of the beverage alcohol business. A company like Austin, Texas-based The Mark Wine Group (MWG), which focuses on the on-premise, must implement new methods of bringing its wines to consumers. “The virus has presented the on-premise with the worst case scenario,” said president and founder Mark Gmur. “We expect our volume to tank sharply, by at least 90%, in the weeks and months to come.”

One way MWG hopes to slow the decline is by teaming up with on-premise partners to pair its wines with their to-go and delivery options. “Many markets have relaxed laws to allow wine to be shipped or picked up with orders, such as the one signed into effect here in Texas,” Gmur explains. MWG, which had volume of just under 400,000 cases last year, is also looking at activating online tastings to promote its offerings. “We hope these opportunities will be a welcome reprieve for some members of the trade, as well as a way for us to interact with them in a safe sales environment,” Gmur says.

Prior to the crisis, MWG had been seeing upticks in on-premise channels like experiential dining, airports, and hotels. The company offers 150 brands from 12 different countries, with distribution in all 50 states through 14 national partners, including Southern Glazer’s and RNDC. Freixenet Mionetto USA is MWG’s largest partner by volume, advancing 29% in 2019, led by Mionetto Brut Prosecco’s 40% growth. Hess Winery is MWG’s strongest domestic winery partner, with Hess Allomi Cabernet up 24.7% in the past year. King Estate Pinot Gris takes the third spot in dollar sales volume. Other brands that had been showing significant gains include Freixenet Cava (+52%), Bogle’s Juggernaut Hillside Cabernet (+136%), Pacific Highway’s Giesen (+40%) and Starmont (+38%), and O’Neill’s relatively new Robert Hall Artisan Collection Cabernet.

“If this dark cloud has a silver lining, it’s that our supplier partners are communicating a strong uptick in off-premise retail sales, so we’re confident that with their support we can ride out the storm together,” Gmur says.—Amber Drea

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