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Interview, Part 2: Wilson Daniels President Rocco Lombardo

December 15, 2022

In the second part of our interview, Wilson Daniels president Rocco Lombardo discusses conditions in the sparkling wine category, supply challenges, and how the luxury-focused wine group sees the future of the business.

SND: What are you seeing in the sparkling segment specifically?

Lombardo: We’ve seen demand outstrip supply with both Schramsberg and Gosset, and for the second year running both of those properties are being allocated nationally. Last year we depleted roughly 95,000 cases of Schramsberg and their properties. This year we had to take a step back and we’ll deplete roughly 90,000 cases, and that is solely due to supply. With Champagne Gosset we get an allocation of approximately 13,000 nine-liter cases and it’s allocated out in the market.

SND: Are consumers exploring different wines as supply of key brands becomes tight?

Lombardo: I think it’s become a necessity for them to become a little bit more exploratory because there have been supply issues. Fortunately for the American consumer, the U.S. in the eyes of France, in the eyes of Italy, and of course, domestically is still a critical market, and that positively influences allocations. But the growth that we’ve had across the country with our portfolio has outpaced supply. Nearly 80% of our portfolio is allocated to Wilson Daniels from our winery partners, and as a result 80% of the brands we take to market are allocated to the national clientele.

SND: How do you see the outlook for the company and the fine wine category overall looking into next year?

Lombardo: I think there was this pent-up demand for engaging socially and starting to reconnect with family and friendships that physically we were unable to connect with the past few years. We’re seeing that go right through the end of the year. Spending is outpacing savings. We’re optimistic that premiumization is going to continue as it has for more than a decade. I’m not as optimistic that the on-premise will continue at its recent pace. During the pandemic we saw a surge in retail, and now that segment has settled a bit. I think we’ll see something similar with the on-premise. But over time we believe that there’ll be more and more consumers driven to the space of luxury wine, so overall we remain very optimistic about the future.

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