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Boxed Wine Players Diversify, Leveraging Better-For-You, Wine Cocktail Trends

November 14, 2022

The U.S. market’s boxed wine stalwarts continue to command robust consumer attention. Delicato Family Wines’ Bota Box is an 11-million-case juggernaut that now offers a nearly complete array of boxed wine concepts, from the traditional to the better-for-you, as well as other products like wine-based cocktail Bota’Rita. “We’re seeing different consumers drink different categories of Bota, which is great because we’re not cannibalizing our own brands,” says Delicato Family Wines CEO and president Chris Indelicato. “There’s some crossover, and it’s allowing a large brand like Bota to participate in different categories, which of course builds the brand image. Bota’Rita is one of the most successful launches in the category.” Better-for-you offering Bota Box Breeze is also soaring, with volume doubling in IRI channels this year after the brand jumped out to 365,000 cases in its 2021 debut, according to Impact Databank.

Franzia remains the largest boxed wine player by volume in the U.S. and globally, at around 22 million cases in the U.S. Better-for-you offshoot 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 Jeff Dubiel, CMO at The Wine Group, 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.

Black Box, now owned by E.&J. Gallo, is targeting younger consumers with its better-for-you lineup. Research indicates that “consumers aged 21-34 years old are more likely to say that they are ‘still drinking, but drinking less’ versus the general population, with almost half of those saying they are drinking less because they are trying to improve their health,” says Beth Orozco, vice president of brand marketing at E.&J. Gallo. “The interest in ‘better-for-you’ wines is as prevalent as this category.”

But the boxed wine space is no longer simply a two- or three-horse race. At Albertsons stores, director of beverage alcohol sales Curtis Mann cites the strength of Jorge Ordóñez Selections’ new premium boxed line Quadrum, which offers a red blend and white blend ($20 a 3-liter box), as well as the remarkably successful Box Wize, a 3-liter box offering that includes four varietals ($18-$23). The latter is the top-selling private-label boxed wine in the country, Mann says.

A rising boxed wine star is Washington label Top Box from Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. Top Box was named an Impact “Hot Prospect” this year, jumping out to nearly a quarter of a million cases in its third year. With options including Chardonnay, Red Blend, and Cabernet Sauvignon, Top Box retails for around $20 a 3-liter and is distributed nationally, with the top markets being Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Texas, and Massachusetts.

Oregon wine pioneer Sokol Blosser launched its Evolution brand into the boxed wine space last fall, with 1.5-liter boxes of its Oregon Pinot Noir and Lucky No. 9 White Blend, retailing at $25 and $18, respectively. “This is a first, and syncs up perfectly with two exploding categories in retail: ultra-premium wine from Oregon and wine in a box,” noted company CEO Alison Sokol Blosser at the rollout, adding that Evolution’s 1.5-liter boxes are also targeting on-premise by-the-glass programs, and as well as the takeout and delivery segment.

All this new activity has certainly helped boxed wine premiumize its image. Miami-based Origins Organic Imports has affiliated offices in Bordeaux, Argentina, and Brazil, and annual sales of more than 750,000 cases globally. Its contribution to the boxed space is Natural Origins, a boxed wine label that’s gotten off to a fast start, hitting the 100,000-case mark after debuting in 2020. And a recent smaller player to throw its hat into the ring is Gratsi, a premium, low sugar, 3-liter bag-in-box wine. Gratsi launched in the spring of last year, and is on track to sell 20,000 9-liter cases this year. It offers three SKUs—Old Country Red, Old Country White, and Old Country Rose. Market Watch has more on the outlook for the boxed wine category.

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