The 2016 Wine Growth Brands Awards: Dominant Trends and Best-Selling Bottles

Beso Del Sol Sangria

Bursting onto the scene in 2014, Beso Del Sol Sangria sold 29,000 cases in its first year, followed by 65,000 cases last year.

“Our on-premise strategy was the game changer for us in 2015,” explains CEO Bradd Levitan. “An ambitious sales strategy, a careful allocation of funds and a network of relationships that have been cultivated over the course of the careers of our partners have propelled Beso Del Sol to the leadership position it’s in now.”

The premium, all-natural sangria hits on several trends. “It fits into the macro-trend of sweeter, more fruit-forward wines, which has become quite popular among the Millennial population within the last year,” says Beso Del Sol managing partner Larry Margolis.

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Moreover, the modern bag-in-a-box packaging ensures that quality lasts longer. “Our sangria costs less than half the price of making it yourself. It tastes better, it’s fast and consistent and there’s no waste because the product stays fresh for so long,” says Stuart McGuire, partner/vice president of national sales.

Raspberry Sparkletini

Raspberry Sparkletini won a Fast Track award in 2016 after posting gains the past five-plus years. This includes 11.2% growth over 2014 sales numbers, an increase of 39,000 nine-liter cases sold.

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“That means we have a product that makes people happy,” says Michael Arons, director of marketing and brand development for supplier Carriage House Imports, Ltd.

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, $5.99, and ABV of 5%, Raspberry Sparkletini is an accessible drink for a wide range of consumers. 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.”

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 first.) The brand has come full circle as J. Lohr Estates won its first Growth Brand in 2001 as a Comeback Brand. This was in recognition of the wine selling 375,000 nine-liter cases in 2000, not far removed from 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 in 2015. J. Lohr Estates chairman/CEO Steve Lohr sees price point as having fueled another comeback.

“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.”

Kyle Swartz is the associate editor of Beverage Dynamics Magazine.

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