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Interview, Part 2: Riboli Family Wines President And CEO Steve Riboli

February 6, 2023

In the first part of our interview with Riboli Family Wines, president and CEO Steve Riboli discussed innovation efforts and overall conditions for Stella Rosa, the U.S. market’s largest imported wine brand by volume, expected to weigh in a little above 6 million cases this year. In the second part, Riboli takes on Stella Rosa’s forays into spirits and non-alcoholic offerings, as well as progress at the higher end of the market with Riboli’s estates portfolio and import-led Avanti division.

SND: The Stella Rosa portfolio recently extended into spirits with an imported brandy ($30). How are prospects there?

Riboli: It’s not your traditional brandy. It comes from northern Italy, and has very upscale packaging. We’ve sort of captured this 30 to 40ish female consumer who’s looking for a brown spirit, but with 70% alcohol and with a little flavor to it. There’s Stella Black, a Honey Peach, and a Tropical Passion. It’s very drinkable on the rocks, and also very mixable. By the end of this year it should be in at least 24 states, and the goal is 250,000 six-pack cases. Grammy Award-winning singer Brandy Norwood is our brand ambassador. The repeat business is super strong. And we have additional spirits in the works.

SND: At the other side of the spectrum, Stella Rosa also has a growing non-alcoholic business. Do you see non-alcs as here for the long term?

Riboli: We call it our Naturals Collection. It’s packaged in a Champagne bottle and is fully sparkling. It’s really catering to this 20s to low 30s consumer who may be either not drinking or not drinking very much right now, and who may not be gravitating to traditional wine. We’re giving them flavors that they grew up with, like cranberry, lemon lime, mango. They can also use it as a mixer for a mocktail, drink it in a Champagne flute, or pour it over ice in a highball glass. I think there’s a multipurpose opportunity in the non-alcoholic space. That should be about 75,000 9-liter cases this year.

SND: What’s new within the Riboli Estates Group?

Riboli: We’ve been in the Paso-Monterey area for well over 30 years. We have about 1,800 acres of vines that the family owns, with brands like Highlands 41, alongside Maddalena and Opaque. We’re really growing those programs. With those wines we need to be in the $20-plus range. We’ve got new packaging coming out for San Simeon and Opaque that’s a higher-end look. Last year we purchased Jada Vineyard & Winery in the Willow Creek area of Paso Robles. It’s a small brand, about 5,000 cases, but we’re building on some hospitality components to reach this higher level consumer, especially in the staycation world that we might be in the next few years with the economy.

SND: You’ve also begun handling imports with the Avanti division. How is that going?

Riboli: That’s where we’re looking outside of California and trying to find some nice little niches. One is a partnership with Nominé-Renard. It’s about a 10,000-case brand, a $65 to $75 grower Champagne, and we buy about half of it. The consumer is looking for upscale without breaking the bank. Out of Piemonte we have a brand called Rivetti, with high-end wines like Barolos, Barbarescos, and an Arneis white. In the next couple years we’re going to continue testing and trying new things, focusing in on some of these hotter wine segments in America.

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