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

News Briefs for September 17, 2021

September 17, 2021

•Don Julio Tequila is honoring the legacy of its founder, Don Julio González, by launching Ultima Reserva, a special 36-month aged luxury Extra-Añejo, which features the final agave harvest planted by González and his family in 2006. 4,000 cases will be released this year, and highly limited quantities will continue to be released each year until the end of this final agave harvest is reached. Don Julio Ultima Reserva is rested in oak barrels previously used to age Bourbon and finished in seasoned Madeira wine casks. It retails at $399 a bottle.

•Germany’s Schmitt Söhne, imported by Delicato in the U.S., is extending its Relax brand into Prosecco. Relax Prosecco DOC retails at $15 a 750-ml. and will roll out nationwide in October. Headquartered in Germany’s Mösel Valley, Schmitt Söhne is led by fifth-generation family member Juliane Schmitt. Relax was the top-selling German wine brand in IRI channels for the 52 weeks through June 13.

•Banshee Wines, part of the Foley Family Wines portfolio, is entering the sparkling segment with Ten of Cups Brut California NV. Inspired by the namesake Tarot card, the limited-production release is a Méthode Champenoise blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier and retails at $28 a 750-ml. It’s hitting select markets this fall ahead of a national rollout next year. Banshee grew 23% to 55,000 cases in the U.S. last year, according to Impact Databank.

•Former Moët Hennessy executive Trent Fraser has been appointed president of Australia-based drinks group Top Shelf International. Top Shelf’s portfolio includes Ned Australian whisky and Grainshaker vodka. The company is currently embarking on a project to produce agave spirits in Australia, and already has 400,000 plants maturing on its farm in Northern Queensland, which lies 20 degrees south of the equator, compared with Jalisco, Mexico’s 20 degrees north of the equator.

•Merryvale Vineyards proprietor René Schlatter has announced the acquisition of Lampyridae Vineyards on Mt. Veeder, a high-elevation site featuring Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel, Syrah, and Grenache on 13 planted acres. The price was undisclosed. With this purchase, Merryvale increases their total estate vineyard holdings to 76 planted acres across three properties and three Napa Valley AVAs. Merryvale has a sales and marketing partnership with Pacific Highway Wines.

•Miami, Florida-based Tropical Distillers is launching a new addition to its J.F. Haden’s line of liqueurs. The second spirit the brand brings to market is J.F. Haden’s Citrus Liqueur, made with oranges, limes, and lemons grown in Florida at the company’s Miami distillery, without preservatives, artificial colors, or flavors. It’s at 20% abv and joins Mango Liqueur in the J.F. Haden’s lineup, with RNDC providing distribution in Florida and Georgia to start, with expansion to other states including New York and Nevada to follow.

•Oregon-based Willamette Valley Vineyards has appointed Greg Urmini director of winemaking and vineyards. Urmini joins following a 14-year tenure at Paul Hobbs Winery in Sonoma, where he worked his way up from intern to director of winemaking, overseeing production at Paul Hobbs and CrossBarn. At Willamette Valley Vineyards, he’ll be responsible for more than 500 acres of grape production in the Willamette Valley, Walla Walla Valley, and Milton-Freewater AVAs, and oversee the construction of a new winery on 40 acres in the Dundee Hills. The company’s eponymous brand was up 15% to 181,000 cases last year, according to Impact Databank.

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