Wine Spectator: Is Crushpad Facing Insolvency?
Crushpad, the Sonoma-based winery that popularized the idea that anyone can make wine, may be facing insolvency, reports Wine Spectator. The company, which last year saw financial executive and winery owner Bill Foley become principal investor with a $3 million infusion, has asked investors for new capital and has warned that it may not be able to continue operations without fresh funding. Concern is mounting among investors and clients, some of whom worry that if Crushpad closes its doors, they may have problems getting their wines. If the firm can’t find the money to continue operations, it’s not clear how winemakers and commercial wineries that use Crushpad’s facilities would be affected. Some vintners told Wine Spectator they’re concerned about what could happen to their barrels if the company goes under and creditors try to secure assets. One Napa wine broker said he’s working with a few of Crushpad’s clients who are looking to move their wine elsewhere.
Pennsylvania Privatization Drive Stuck In Neutral
Pennsylvania’s top advocate for privatizing the state’s retail spirits and wine sales is backing off the fight until at least this fall. Pennsylvania House majority leader Mike Turzai said his privatization proposal doesn’t currently have the votes to pass the House, and that the effort will be shelved for now. After a few hours of discussion on the floor of the House last week, Turzai’s most recent privatization bill looked likely to fail when Speaker Sam Smith suspended debate. Turzai will now work with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett (who supports the effort) on an amended bill that could command majorities in both chambers of the Pennsylvania legislature before the end of the two-year session on November 30.
The privatization proposal has already had several different incarnations. The most recent version sweetened the deal for beer distributors in Pennsylvania—some of whom had opposed an earlier version—by offering them first right of refusal on 1,600 retail wine and spirits licenses to be auctioned, as the state’s 620-store retail monopoly on wine and spirits was dissolved. The plan also sought to allow beer distributors to sell beer in 6-packs and 18-packs versus current rules under which they may sell only cases and kegs.
BevMo To Open First Washington Stores On July 13
California-based beverage retailer BevMo will be opening its first two Washington stores on July 13. The two new locations—in Tacoma and Silverdale (both around 30 miles from Seattle) are 12,000-square-foot units featuring BevMo’s usual wide selection of wines, spirits and beers as well as gourmet food items, cocktail mixers, glassware and bar accessories.
BevMo is kicking off the grand opening weekend with a ribbon cutting and special gift bag that includes includes Riedel glassware, mixers and snacks to the first 500 customers at each store on July 13. Tastings will take place every weekend at the new locations, with beer tastings on Friday from 4-7 p.m. and wine tastings every Saturday from 1-4 p.m.
The BevMo openings in Washington will come around six weeks after the state officially privatized its spirits trade, paving the way for major retail chains to set up shop in the market. BevMo competitor Total Wine & More is also preparing to enter Washington, with plans to open a total of 10 Washington stores this summer.
Break Me Off A Glass Of That
Stacked Wines solves the wine-for-one dilemma
So what do you do when you want just one glass of wine, but to get it, you have to open a 750 milliliter wine bottle that pours four?
You might give up and open a beer instead. Or open the bottle anyway and try to drink it quickly before the flavor goes off.
But if you’re an inventor, like Matt Zimmer, you might start doodling to come up with a better way to split that bottle of wine into four glasses.
Zimmer’s doodle was the inspiration for Stacked Wines, a clever new product launched in April that delivers a bottle of wine in a stack of four individually-sealed, stemless glasses.
Now if you’re headed out camping, sailing or to the beach, there’s no need to worry about toting breakable glassware, corkscrews or hiding the bottle when the lifeguards roll by. When you want a refreshing glass of chardonnay, merlot or pinot grigio, just break one off — the site has a little interactive stack so you can practice your technique.
“The thing we hear all the time is: why didn’t I think of that?” says Jodi Wynn, VP of marketing for Stacked Wines.
It looks simple, but Zimmer, Wynn and partner Doug Allen spent 18 months developing the recyclable PET glasses and the vacuum-seals that keep the premium wine fresh for up to a year. Stacked Wines are available through the company’s website and at Albertson’s grocery stores in Orange County and independent wine shops in Los Angeles.
Deutsch Joins Forces With Sportscaster Nantz On Upscale Sonoma Wine Brand
Sports commentator Jim Nantz and Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits have introduced a new high-end Sonoma-based wine brand—The Calling—to the U.S. market via their partnership, the Deutsch Nantz Alliance. The new brand, which is starting to roll out across the U.S. market this month, was unveiled in May at a fundraiser in Fort Worth, Texas for The Nantz National Alzheimer Center, a facility Nantz helped create at Houston’s Methodist Hospital to improve care and treatment for patients with Alzheimer’s disease, of which his father died in 2008.
While Deutsch has been one of the leading U.S. wine marketers for years on the strength of brands such as Yellow Tail and Georges Duboeuf, The Calling marks a first for the White Plains, New York-based company. “This is the first time the Deutsch name will be on a wine label as a producer,” said Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits CEO Peter Deutsch. “For us to make this historic first step for our family company, the situation had to be just right. This was the perfect confluence of my family’s ideals meshing with Jim’s.”
The Calling features two Chardonnays: Dutton Ranch ($30) and Jewell Vineyard ($40), each aged 12 months and both from Dutton Ranch Vineyards in the Russian River Valley; and two red wines from the Alexander Valley: a 2009 Rio Lago Cabernet Sauvignon aged 24 months ($35) and 2009 Alexander Valley “Our Tribute” Bordeaux-style blend, aged 30 months.
Morton’s The Steakhouse Putting Major Focus On The Bar
Morton’s The Steakhouse has embarked upon a major upgrade at all its U.S. locations with a focus on maximizing bar sales, company executives tell Shanken News Daily. Having recently completed a renovation of one location in Houston’s Galleria area, Morton’s, which was acquired by Landry’s Inc. earlier this year, will update all its 50-plus units within the next two years.
“We’re ripping out walls in the bar so the dining room and bar will flow into one,” says Morton’s senior vice president and COO Tim Whitlock. Televisions will also likely be added to the bars, with the aim of making the venues “a little more friendly, a little more accessible,” Whitlock adds.
The new look of the bar will reflect ongoing changes to the beverage program, which includes new cocktails and expanded wine-by-the-glass offerings. “The changes will help bring more guests to the bar,” Whitlock says, including younger and female consumers. The steakhouse chain recorded sales revenue of $320 million last year.
Wine represents 80% of Morton’s beverage sales, according to divisional vice president, wine and spirits, Tylor Field. He says that the recession ushered in demand for value, and the steakhouse chain responded with greater focus on its own exclusive wines and its wine-by-the-glass program. “People aren’t as willing to spend $80 to take a shot at a bottle of wine, but they are willing to have a bit of luxury for $15,” Field says of wine-by-the-glass purchases. “A decade ago, 12% of Morton’s wine sales came from by-the-glass pours, and today that number is 30%.”
Among other wine trends, Field says “the biggest change we’re seeing is in the Prosecco category. It’s an easy-to-drink, inexpensive, high-quality bubbly experience. It’s also very mixable.” While California Cabernet Sauvignon remains the most popular wine choice at Morton’s, Field cites “alternative” varietals that are sweeter, such as Riesling and Moscato, coming to the forefront. “The days of just ordering a Chardonnay are over,” he says.
Morton’s has also been promoting the bar in recent years via “Power Hours,” or happy hour events, featuring reduced prices on select cocktails, wine and beer (where legal) and “bar bites” food items. “Power Hour has been very successful, and will continue under Landry’s ownership,” Field says.
Houston-based Landry’s operates a number of high-end and casual-dining restaurant concepts, including Landry’s Seafood House, Rainforest Cafe, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Claim Jumper, Saltgrass Steak House, Oceannaire and McCormick & Schmick’s. Revenue for the restaurant group is projected to exceed $2 billion this year. Landry’s, owned by Tilman J. Fertitta, is also the owner of Golden Nugget Hotel & Casinos.
New Independent Mega-Store Opens In Boulder
With $7.1 Million Investment
New mega-retailer Hazel’s Beverage World will open June 29 in Boulder, Colorado, at 1955 28th Street in a building formerly occupied by an electronics store. The 35,000-square-foot location will become Boulder County’s largest liquor store, passing Liquor Mart, which is located about one mile away.
Boulder-based Integrity Retail Partners LLC, a privately held entity registered to local real estate attorney Bruce Dierking, raised $7.1 million to fund the store, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The money was raised by 40 investors including Boulder real estate developer Jim Loftus, Dierking says, noting that 39 of the investors live in Boulder.
The store will be managed by Jim Dean, formerly of Westminster Total Beverage, which is located about 17 miles away in Westminster, Colorado. Hazel’s will offer around 12,000 SKUs including 8,000 wines, 2,000 distilled spirits and nearly 2,000 beers. Dierking says the store will have a layout similar to that of an upscale supermarket. “Boulder is a town of open-minded foodies—more so than many communities of this size,” Dierking says. “People here are interested in niche products like absinthe and craft beer.”
In a market study, the company determined many Boulder residents shop for beverage alcohol beyond the city limits at Superior Liquor, located about eight miles from Hazel’s in Superior, Colorado. Dierking says Hazel’s will be positioned to capture local sales.