Cheers - March/April 2016

Cheers is dedicated to delivering hospitality professionals the information, insights and data necessary to drive their beverage business by covering trends and innovations in operations, merchandising, service and training.

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Page 41 of 59 42 • March/April 2016 2016 GROWTH BRAND AWARDS WINE for a greater total volume of wine consumption than Millennials, but the gap is closing each year. The wine industry is still fi guring out what Millennials want. One thing seems to be certain, though: Experimentation is in for this group. "We see that younger Millennial consumers are interested in trying new varieties and wines from regions they may not have heard of," explains Jordan Sager, vice president of Winesellers, LTd., which supplies the La Fiera wine brand. La Fiera earned a spot on the Comeback Brands list for posting increases for the past two years: After a drop in 2013, to 49,000 cases, La Fiera bounced back with 61,000 cases in 2015 and 65,000 last year. Winesellers, Ltd. positioned La Fiera, which includes wine varietals from all over Italy, as "providing a vehicle to experiment at value-driven price points," Sager says. POS AND IN-PERSON Even with the near-universal expansion of digital strategies, POS and in-person marketing remain critical for success. "We very much appreciate articles in periodicals or blogs on the web, but sometimes that can be counter-intuitive," says Tony Leonardini, partner/winemaker of BNA Wine Group. "In the end, the consumer speaks with their purchase, and focusing on their trends is most important. BNA Wine Group's Butternut wine became a Rising Star after growing nearly 40% to 58,000 cases sold in 2015, compared to 42,000 last year. "We are still heavily into social media and online promotions, but the face-to-face interaction is more important than ever." Cava producer Freixenet, which won a Comeback Brand Award after rebounded from a 2013 dip in sales, is big on social media. But the Spanish sparkling wine brand also sponsored the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, says Danielle Fritz, brand manager, import brands for Freixenet USA, and offered a value-add option in-store to allow consumers to "costumize" their Halloween-themed bottles. Fast Track Award winner Nobilo from Global Imports & Spirits also benefi tted from physical connections. "The quality is in the bottle— consumer events and sampling is a key area of investment," says Pfeiffer. Global Imports & Spirits also carries the Italian wine Ruffi no, which in 2016 is "thrilled to partner with Italian icon San Pellegrino on a nationwide at-retail promotional program," Pfeiffer says. Ruffi no won an Established Growth Brand Award for its consistent growth during the past fi ve years, climbing from 713,000 cases sold in 2011 to about 1.13 million last year. The Roscato fi zzy red wine brand by Palm Bay International rocketed up sales charts in recent years. A Rising Star in 2015, Roscato has grown from 45,000 cases sold in 2011 to half a million last year. One part of the brand's success? A focus on tastings, according to the Palm Bay team. Chilean wine brand Epica was a fellow Rising Star winner that relied on in-person marketing. "Tastings played the greatest role in achieving this status," says Rod Simmons, brand manager at supplier Shaw-Ross International. "The feedback from tastings was that the consumer loves the style of the wine, being fruit-forward, with the range covering almost all major varietals." RASPBERRY SPARKLETINI Raspberry Sparkletini won a Fast Track Award in 2016 after posting gains the past fi ve-plus years. This includes 11.2% growth over 2014 sales numbers, an increase of 39,000 nine-liter cases sold. "That means we have a product that makes people happy," says Michael Arons, director of marketing and brand development for supplier Carriage House Imports. Carriage House has a line of Sparkletini wines, with Raspberry as the top seller. The Sparkletinis are not just for the holidays: "Every occasion is better with a little sparkle," Arons says. "They mix well with vodka and mimosas." With a low price point of $5.99 and ABV of 5%, Raspberry Sparkletini is an accessible drink for a wide range of consumers, he says. What's next for the line? "We want to start a trend with an accessible sparkling rosé," Arons says. "There aren't many of them." COMEBACK KID and HALL OF FAMER J. LOHR ESTATES With its 15th Growth Brand award, J. Lohr Estates enters our Hall of Fame—the second wine entrant (Chateau Ste. Michelle was the fi rst.) The brand has come full circle, as J. Lohr Estates won its fi rst Growth Brand in 2001 as a Comeback Brand. This was in recognition of the wine selling 375,000 nine-liter cases in 2000, a rebound after selling just 200,000 cases in 1997. After a disappointing 2014 in which J. Lohr Estates sold 1.406 million cases (after selling 1.439 million in 2013), the brand rebounded with 1.439 million cases sold in 2015. J. Lohr Estates chairman/CEO Steve Lohr sees price point as having fueled another comeback for the brand. "Most of our wines fall into the $10 to $20 price range, and this range continues to be a real sweet spot in the market," Lohr says. "The continued rise to prominence of our appellations of Paso Robles, the Arroyo Seco and Santa Lucia Highlands appellations of Monterey County, and St. Helena in the Napa Valley is also an important factor in our growth."

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