Interview: Enore Ceola, President And CEO, Freixenet Mionetto USAJune 15, 2022
The sparkling wine category continues to be a key growth driver for the industry, with brands up and down the pricing ladder enjoying solid gains.With a portfolio including Mionetto Prosecco, Freixenet and Segura Viudas Cavas, and California sparkler Gloria Ferrer, among others, Freixenet Mionetto USA has been among the companies spearheading that growth. The Mionetto brand was up 6% to just under 900,000 cases in the U.S. last year, according to Impact Databank, while Freixenet and Segura Viudas grew 4% to 582,000 cases and 12% to 250,000 cases respectively. Gloria Ferrer added 7% growth to 90,000 cases. SND recently caught up with Freixenet Mionetto USA president and CEO Enore Ceola for an update.
SND: How are conditions in the sparkling category in the U.S. so far this year?
Ceola: The category overall is very dynamic. Consumers are very interested in sparkling wine, whether it’s Prosecco, Cava, domestic, or even Champagne or Cremant. Consumers are now looking at various categories, various regions, and they really want to learn. Of course, we’ve seen trends switching by channel. During Covid retail took off, and then in the last six to 12 months it slowed down a little bit, but on-premise is taking off on the other side. Overall, it’s positive momentum for the whole sparkling wine category, including Champagne.
SND: Why has Prosecco in particular captured the attention of U.S. consumers?
Ceola: I think Prosecco has been successful at positioning itself not only as a wine for special occasions or celebrations, but as an everyday gratification. That positioning, coupled with some ups and downs for the economy, allowed people discover Prosecco, which is very welcoming and easy to drink. It’s a combination of the taste profile, which is very appealing to today’s drinker, and then the fact that people want to treat themselves on a daily basis. Covid actually accelerated that, because everyone was kind of stuck at home and not feeling very good about the situation, and they needed some reason to cheer, and sparkling wine is a great way to do it.
SND: What’s the latest on new products across the portfolio?
Ceola: We’re extremely happy about the gains we’re making with Mionetto Prosecco Rosé. We don’t know yet how big it can be, because everything rosé is hot right now. On top of that you add bubbles, and on top of that the fact that it’s a Prosecco, and who knows what can happen? We think we should have at least a 25% share of Prosecco rosé overall. It won’t happen overnight, but I think it will in the next 12 to 24 months. On Segura Viudas, we launched a new Made with Organic Grapes offering. We’re repositioning as a premium brand of high quality, and it makes a lot of sense to have an organic, because Segura Viudas has always been focused on sustainability, and it gave us an opportunity to talk about that. We also just introduced a Zero Alcohol extension from Freixenet, a Brut and Rosé. For Gloria Ferrer, we upgraded the labels and our plan is to become more of a premium brand from California. We also have new packaging on Mionetto Prosecco Superiore DOCG, and we’re seeing growing interest there.
SND: How do you see the future of the non-Champagne sparkling category?
Ceola: I think domestics are benefiting from price increases on Champagne, so there’s more opportunity for domestic sparkling wine between $20 and $40. Under $20, I see a great opportunity for imports, because Prosecco still has a long way to go in terms of distribution, and even consumer recognition, despite all its growth. Cava, for us, is about educating on quality. In the past, Cava was sold more on value. It’s important that we refocus on quality and the traditional method.