Retaining its crown as the world’s best-selling wine brand, Barefoot’s sales remained steady on 22.5 million cases last year. Enlarging its footprint across the world and building on its reputation as the biggest-selling bottled wine brand on the planet, the brand, owned by E&J Gallo, remains significantly ahead of its nearest competitor, Chile’s Concha y Toro.
Keen to remain relevant through constant reinvention, last year the brand launched a lower alcohol red, white, rosé and sweet spritzer range called Barefoot Refresh alongside 187ml bottles of best-sellers Merlot, Pinot Grigio and Pink Moscato.
In March the brand hit the headlines when its $8 Moscato was used to christen the launch of the US navy’s latest warship, USS Billings. “We settled on using the Barefoot sparkling wine after doing a study using various Champagne brands and bottle types. In the end, we chose the one that broke most consistently when scored. For whatever reason, the Barefoot bottle breaks in all climates from 10° below to 100° F and always produces a consistent splash for photography,” a spokesperson told Wine Spectator.
This month Stephanie Gallo, vice president of marketing at E&J Gallo Winery, told db that one of the biggest challenges – as well as the biggest opportunity – in the US market was to continue growing wine sales, but to do so, the focus needed to be not just on selling wine, but on “selling wine in the style, packaging and price points to meet the evolving needs of our consumer.”
This included innovation and making wines more “sessionable,” fun and friendly to appeal to new entrants into the wine category, she argued. One way the brand is achieving this goal is by packaging its spritzers in cans, making them festival friendly. New additions to the spritzer range this spring included a Moscato and a rosé.
Chilean wine giant Concha y Toro had a year to remember for all the right reasons in 2016, with volume sales up 7.2% to 16.3 million cases.
Despite tough market conditions last year due to exchange rate devaluations, in line with the company’s strategic focus, the premium category was the most dynamic, growing 8.6%, with 6.1 million cases sold. The region with the highest expansion was Asia, where sales volumes increased by 23%, reflected by solid growth in China (+90%), Japan (+12%) and Korea (+18%).
CYT has also been successful in building its brands, notably Casillero del Diablo – one of the world’s most powerful wine brands, which grew by 8.6% to 5.4 million cases, with the UK remaining the largest global market for the brand. Over two million cases of Casillero were sold in Britain last year helped by the company’s Wine Legend advertising campaign and recently renewed collaboration with Manchester United football club.
With 9,400 hectares under vine, Concha y Toro’s wines are on sale in 140 countries. “The long term commitment to quality wines has been championed by the Guilisasti family since the 1960s. Today the company is known for its modern approach, but always puts its passion for wine, and the realisation of Chile’s potential to produce world class wines, first,” said Ben Smith, Concha y Toro UK’s head of communications.
It’s been a busy year for Californian wine juggernaut Gallo, which snapped up Stagecoach, the largest continuous vineyard in the Napa Valley, for an undisclosed sum in March. Gallo’s acquisition of 1,300 acre vineyard, which lies in Atlas Peak and is planted with over 600 acres of vines, gives serious clout to its premium wine ambitions.
Stagecoach currently supplies grapes to more than 90 wineries ranging from boutique brands to larger-scale producers, with many bearing the vineyard’s name on the label. Gallo has agreed to honour all of the existing contracts.
On the acquisition trail, Gallo snapped up Talbott Vineyard in Monterey in 2015 and Orin Swift in Napa last year, tripling its production capacity in Napa while it was at it through the purchase of The Range Winery, a grape-crush facility with a 30,000-tonne capacity.
China’s oldest wine brand extended its lead over rival Great Wall considerably last year, selling over double the volume – 15 million cases to Great Wall’s 7m. Founded in 1819, the brand celebrated the launch of its “crown jewel” last year – a five-strong range produced from 250 hectares under the Château Changyu Moser XV brand.
Taking the Bordeaux model, the range includes ‘grand vin’ Château Changyu Moser XV Cabernet Sauvignon, second wine Moser Family Cabernert Sauvignon, and a three-strong varietal range, Moser XV, formed of a Cabernet, Merlot and Riesling, which launched with the 2015 vintage.
Illustrating that the company is increasingly looking westwards, in 2015 Changyu bought a 90% stake in Bordeaux Supérieur estate Château Mirefleurs from the Castel Group for €3.3m.
Sales remained steady for Australian wine brand Yellow Tail last year on 11.5 million cases, with the USA, UK and Australia accounting for the lion’s share.
New initiatives include a global social media strategy for the brand and a pack evolution to refresh the look of the brand, increase shelf stand out and improve on quality cues. No other Australian brand comes close to challenging Yellow Tail’s power base in the US, where 100 million cases of the wine have been shipped. To capitalise on this thirst, Yellow Tail invested a healthy sum into an advert that appeared during this year’s Super Bowl, which led to a direct increase of volume and value sales.
Ever since it introduced the world to White Zinfandel in the 1970s, this big hitter in the US market has been on the lookout for new styles. In 2014 the company added a ‘Red Blend’, a crowd-pleasing mix of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, to its books. The UK, Poland, Ireland and Canada remain Sutter Home’s largest export markets.
In the drinks business’ Global Cabernet Masters competition last year, in the under £10 bracket Sutter Home’s Cabernet Sauvignon stood out for its “juicy identifiably Cab character”, encouraging judges to single it out as a good entry point to California’s expertise with the grape.
Last April, Robert Mondavi Winery celebrated its 50th anniversary with a three-day media event at its Napa Valley facility that included the launch of a new wine, Maestro, in honour its founder Robert Mondavi, who died in 2008 and is considered by many as the godfather of Californian wine. The wine is a 2013 Bordeaux-style red blend selected from its Oakville vineyards with an RRP of $50 Winemaker Genevieve Janssens described it as “a serious wine with a humble soul”.
On sale in 150 countries, Australian wine brand Hardys became an official partner of England cricket, which it continues to sponsor with above the line advertising and limited edition in-store packs.
In 2015 the brand join forces with Sky Sports to sponsor its live coverage of the Ashes. It also became a partner of the MCC, owner of Lords cricket ground. In the UK a £3.5 million advertising campaign – the largest marketing investment by a wine brand in 2015 – celebrated Hardys sponsorship of the England cricket team and played on the rivalry between England and Australia.
Founded in 1876, Beringer is Napa Valley’s oldest continuously operating winery and is listed on the National Register of Historical Places as a California landmark.
Owned today by Treasury Wine Estates, the company enjoyed a strong 2016, pulling in global volume sales of 7.5 million 9-litre cases. Beringer’s luxury tier accounts for around 190,000 cases annually.
In April the estate added a dry rosé to its Beringer Main & Vine range, the first dry rosé expression in the collection, in conjunction with promotional activities for the brand in the US. Inspired by Provence’s pinks, the wine is said to boast “floral notes and aromas of “passionfruit and red berry”.
With vineyard holdings in Shandong province, the company, which is owned by COFCO, makes red, white, rosé, sweet, sparkling and fortified wines, which it sells at home and in 20 export markets including the UK, US, France and Germany. Its top Cabernet costs in the region of £50.
Great Wall dominates domestic production in China with 100 wines in its portfolio. It has recently expanded to incorporate Great Wall wines made in other parts of the world, from France and Australia to Chile.
Based in Shacheng in Hebei province in northern China, Great Wall was founded in 1983 and is a subsidiary of state-owned China Foods Limited. Its main office is situated at the foot of the Great Wall of China next to Guanting Lake.
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