Our 2022 Wine Supplier of the Year: The Wine Group

the wine group supplier of the year beverage dynamics cheers magazine growth brands awards

Our Wine Supplier of the Year, The Wine Group, took home 11 Growth Brands Awards in 2022. These include an Established Growth Brand Award for Chloe; a Fast Track Award for Imagery; and Rising Star Awards for Cupcake Lighthearted, Franzia Refreshers, Winemaker’s Selection, Tribute, Silver Gate, Sun Pop, Redwood Highway, Paintbox and Outspoken.

The Wine Group, based in Livermore, CA, was founded in 1981. But the company’s roots date back to the 1970s, when Coca-Cola Bottling of New York wanted to get into the wine business and acquired the Franzia, Mogen David and Tribuno brands.

After a leveraged buyout, The Wine Group became a management-owned, privately held company. Today it’s a global leader in the wine industry, producing more than 60 brands. Here’s a bit more on some of its wines that received Growth Brand Awards in 2022.


The Chloe Wine Collection of super-premium wines sourced from California and Italy launched in 2014 with a Sonoma County chardonnay, Valdadige D.O.C. pinot grigio and Red No. 249, a California North Coast blend. The portfolio today includes Prosecco D.O.C., Prosecco rosé D.O.C., Marlborough sauvignon blanc, Central Coast rosé, Monterey County pinot noir, San Lucas cabernet sauvignon and San Lucas merlot.

Developed by Romanian-born winemaker Georgetta Dane, the Chloe Wine Collection boasts distinctive black-and-white label packaging and offers affordable luxury with a suggested retail price of $17 per 750-ml. bottle. Chloe has won several Growth Brand Awards since The Wine Group rolled it out eight years ago.


Imagery Estate Winery, based in Glen Ellen, CA, was founded by Joe Benziger in the mid 1980s. Benziger saw an opportunity to showcase small lots of exceptional fruit that would have otherwise been lost in larger blends.

His daughter, Jamie Benziger, took over winemaking at Imagery in 2017 and continues the brand’s unconventional approach to winemaking and blending. The wine is about to get much more exposure, as Delta Air Lines began carrying Imagery Estate Winery’s cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay in cans this past January.

Better-for-you Bottles and Boxes

Cupcake LightHearted, an offshoot of the 14-year-old Cupcake Vineyards premium wine brand, launched in summer 2020 and is available nationwide at a suggested retail price of $9.99 per 750-ml. bottle. The line extension aimed to tap into the hugely popular “better-for-you” wine category, says Jeff Dubiel, chief marketing officer of The Wine Group.

“We know, based on our high repeat rates, that once consumers try our product they return to purchase again,” Dubiel says. “Given this, our full focus has been on driving awareness and trial of Cupcake LightHearted.”

The brand launched a multi-million dollar national ad campaign in the fourth quarter across digital, social and broadcast media that has rolled over into 2022. That came on the heels of the brand being featured in major lifestyle publications such as People Magazine and Shape Magazine, Dubiel notes. “This was complemented by trial tactics via both in-home events and out-of-home, active lifestyle event”

Another line extension targeting the wellness market is Franzia Refreshers, unveiled in July 2021. The slightly sweet varietal wines blended with natural fruit flavors meet the growing consumer demand for wines with lower calories and alcohol.

Available in Peach Moscato, Tropical Pinot Grigio, Strawberry Rose and Wildberry Moscato, Franzia Refreshers have 6.5% ABV, 75 calories per glass, and are vegan and gluten free. The line sells in 3-liter boxes for a suggested price of about $15.

Founded by Teresa Franzia, who planted her first vineyard in 1906 and took out a loan to start Franzia Brothers Wine Company in 1930, Franzia is the world’s most popular wine, and in 1985, became the first wine brand in America to package its wine in a box.

Melissa Dowling is editor of Cheers magazine, our on-premise sister publication. Contact her at mdowling@epgmediallc.com, and read her recent piece, Announcing Why Bacardi is Our 2022 Spirits Supplier of the Year.


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