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The Wine Group In Innovation Mode On Cupcake, Beringer Main & Vine

March 9, 2022

The Wine Group is introducing new innovations on two brands that combine for nearly 6 million cases in the U.S. market. They include a new Signature Sweets range under the Cupcake brand, as well as Lemonade Stand at Main & Vine, a new offshoot of Beringer Main & Vine, which was among the labels The Wine Group gained from Treasury Wine Estates last year. According to Impact Databank, Cupcake’s full portfolio totaled 2.9 million cases in the U.S. in 2021, while Beringer Main & Vine was at approximately 3 million cases.

The Wine Group CMO Jeff Dubiel tells SND that the two new lines are aimed at “sweet seekers,” a demographic that is buying across a variety of price points and driving big gains in the fruit-flavored wine segment. “Over the last 15 years, sweet has become part of the nomenclature at higher price points,” Dubiel says, noting that sweet wines now account for nearly 20% of the total wine category in retail channels and have been growing share rapidly in the above-$11 segment. Moreover, sweet and flavored wines have been effective at bringing new consumers into the wine category overall, Dubiel notes.

Cupcake’s new Signature Sweets are made from grapes sourced from Italy’s Piedmont region and are all at 5.5% abv. The four offerings in the line—Sweet Red, Watermelon, Peach, and Berry—are lightly sparkling and are rolling out nationwide, retailing at $14 a 750-ml. “We’ve launched Cupcake into the better-for-you segment with LightHearted, and now with Signature Sweets, it’s another move to keep consumers within the franchise,” Dubiel says, adding that LightHearted continues to grow rapidly after more than doubling to 250,000 cases in 2021, according to Impact Databank.

Like Cupcake Signature Sweets, Lemonade Stand at Main & Vine wines are lower in alcohol at 6.5% abv. Including Lemonade Moscato and Strawberry Lemonade Rosé variants, they have 90 calories a 5-ounce serving and are meant to be served cold and over ice, retailing at $7 a 750-ml. and $12 a 1.5-liter. “Lemonade is very big in beer and it’s very big in seltzer,” Dubiel says, noting that the lemonade-flavored beverage alcohol category is worth more than $1 billion in IRI channels—without wine’s participation. “Being one of the first movers bringing lemonade to wine seemed to be a pretty good idea. Retailer reaction and what we’ve heard from consumers has been very positive. We’ve got a lot of opportunity in front of us as we get more consumers to try it.”

Elsewhere in The Wine Group portfolio, Franzia Refreshers ($15 a 3-liter) are continuing to surge after hitting 220,000 cases in the U.S. last year in their debut, according to Impact Databank. About one-third of the volume for Refreshers comes from consumers who are new to the 3-liter segment, according to Dubiel, with notable interest from hard seltzer drinkers. “That starts to signal that if we do this right there’s an opportunity to bring new users into the franchise and steal back some of the consumers that we’ve all lost to seltzer,” he says.—Daniel Marsteller

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