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

News Briefs for August 23, 2022

August 23, 2022

•Maurice Kanbar, founder of Skyy Vodka, died of natural causes August 20 in San Francisco. He was 93. Kanbar, a highly successful entrepreneur in various fields, tried his hand at spirits in 1992 with the launch of Skyy, which touted a distilling process that removed enough congeners (toxic impurities) to make it hangover-proof. Skyy’s signature blue bottle soon became a hit. Kanbar would later recruit three seasoned industry veterans—Tony Foglio, Gerry Ruvo and Keith Greggor—to run the business. By 1995, Skyy had won its first Impact “Hot Brand” award, the first of many, and became a leader in the spirits renaissance of the 1990s. Skyy was acquired by Campari in 2001.

•Casa Azul, a new line of canned Tequila soda cocktails, has launched in select markets across the U.S., through a partnership with RNDC. The 5% abv cocktails come in four flavors—Lime Margarita, Strawberry Margarita, Peach Mango, and Watermelon—with each serving containing 100 calories and less than one gram of carbohydrates. Casa Azul Tequila Soda is rolling out in California, Colorado, Texas, Georgia, and Florida in both 4-packs of individual flavors ($13) and a variety 8-pack with two of each flavor.

•The Russian River Valley and Joe Rochioli Jr. are inseparably connected. Raised on his family’s farm on Westside Road in Healdsburg, Rochioli never left, save for college and the Army. He was the patriarch of the region, an integral citizen of the city of Healdsburg, and a proud, hardworking farmer who helped earn the Russian River Valley a reputation as a world-class site for Pinot Noir. Rochioli died August 18 at age 88. Wine Spectator has more on Rochioli’s life and career.

•Freshie Organic Tequila Seltzer has added two new flavors to its portfolio, bringing Freshie’s total offerings to three. The new flavors, Grapefruit-Guava and Blood Orange-Habanero, like the original Lime release, are at 4.5% abv and 99 calories per 12-ounce serving. In addition to launching individual 4-packs, Freshie has also released an 8-can variety pack with four cans of Lime and two each of the new flavors. The brand’s portfolio is available in Illinois, Florida, and Tennessee.

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