Exclusive news and research on the wine, spirits and beer business

News Briefs for June 29, 2021

June 29, 2021

•Diageo, through its Distill Ventures arm, has announced a new $5 million “pre-accelerator” program, aimed at directing investment funds to company founders from under-represented communities at the earliest stages of development. The fund was established in response to the wealth gap that often prevents companies and products created by people of color from going from idea to reality. According to the company, the investments will be typically be between $250,000 and $500,000 and will also come with assistance developing business and pitch plans to help secure more rounds of investment. Applicants can submit their projects at www.distillventures.com/pre-accelerator.

•Chopin Vodka has launched Botanika Angelica, a new line of liqueurs made from the company’s namesake vodka, blended with botanicals and fruit. Botanika Angelica makes its debut with five expressions—Amaro (40% abv, $40 a 750-ml.), Bitters (30% abv, $30), Orange (40% abv, $35), Lemon (35% abv, $30), and Elderflower (25% abv, $35). Before blending, the spirit, fruits, herbs, and spices are macerated for two to seven months in clay pots. Additionally, all but the lemon and orange liqueurs are matured in Polish oak before bottling. Botanika Angelic is now available across the U.S.

•Famed Brunello producer Biondi-Santi is debuting large-format bottles for the first time in its history. The 2015 vintage of Brunello di Montalcino DOCG will be offered as a magnum (1.5-liter), while the Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Riserva 2013—the 40th Riserva to be released since the first vintage in 1888—will be offered in magnum and jerobaum (3-liter). They are available nationally, with Brunello 2015 retailing for $579 and Riserva 2013 retailing for $1,619 (1.5-liter) and $3,500 (3-liter). Biondi-Santi is imported by Wilson Daniels.

•Big Red Liquors has agreed to acquire fellow Indiana retailer Cap n’ Cork for an undisclosed sum. The deal includes 15 stores in northeastern Indiana which will continue to operate under the Cap n’ Cork name. With the acquisitions, Big Red, owned by Tony Knoble and Justin Collins, will have 75 locations in Indiana statewide.

•California’s Cline Family Cellars is introducing a new on-premise brand, Seven Ranchlands. Named for the seven ranches the Cline family farms across Northern California, the new label includes Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon presented in screwcaps and affordably priced as by-the-glass and bottle list options. Seven Ranchlands will donate $2 of every case sold to local and national restaurant relief funds to support post-Covid-19 restaurant recovery.

•Constellation Brands has officially appointed Matt McHargue senior vice president, fine wine and craft spirits division. Earlier this year, Constellation announced the creation of a standalone, vertically integrated fine wine and craft spirits business unit to support its ambition to be the high-end wine and craft spirits category leader. Prior to this role, McHargue led wine and spirits sales for Constellation’s Mid-Atlantic region, following over two years as director of wine and spirits commercial planning.

•Anheuser-Busch InBev has named Brendan Whitworth as zone president North America and CEO of Anheuser-Busch, effective July 1. He succeeds Michel Doukeris, who is transitioning to the role of global CEO of AB InBev on the same date. Whitworth was previously U.S. chief sales officer, where he’s credited with capturing more than $1 billion of revenue in “Beyond Beer” segments through a combination of organic brand building, strategic acquisitions, and innovative partnerships, among other milestones.

•Breakthru Beverage Group has named Amanda Hale as vice president of supplier business development. Hale joins Breakthru from Stoli Group, where she served in sales roles, including as regional sales director for the company’s northeast division. Prior to Stoli, Hale worked in a variety of capacities at Beam Suntory. Hale reports to Kevin Roberts, Breakthru’s executive vice president, supplier business development.

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