Also: Aluminum wine bottles go national; IWA owner buys WineKeeper
Sonoma County wine storage and logistics companies continue to be on the move. Express Wine Delivery is taking advantage of the expansion of Alexander Valley Cellars‘ main Windsor warehouse to triple in size itself.
Starting with two families operating two trucks from a home garage six and a half years ago, Express Wine Delivery (707-544-7459, expresswinedelivery.com) has grown to have 21 employees operating 13 trucks from 20,000 square feet of warehouse space on Brickway Boulevard near Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport. Next month, the company plans to relocate to 70,000 square feet of storage space at 7970 Cameron Dr. in Windsor, according to co-owner Marcela Aguilar.
“There’s a lot of demand for wine storage,” she said.
With six bobtail trucks, two Sprinter vans and four big rigs, Express Wine specializes in Northern California delivery. By offering delivery services for quantities as small as a pallet or two, the company has built a client list of about 120 small wineries. Leveraging inventory management and order-processing software by Advanced Management Systems of Santa Rosa, Express Wine also offers storage, consolidation and fulfillment services, including a department for club shipments.
Alexander Valley Cellars expanded by 110,000 square feet into the rest of the 282,000-square-foot 1010 Shiloh Rd. wine warehouse and had been leasing 7970 Cameron. The company has been eying another large warehouse farther to the south in Santa Rosa for expansion and the launch of a bulk-wine storage service, according to co-owner Meritt Dahlgren. [See the June 24 story "Demand stacks up for wine warehouser."]
Express Wine Delivery started after Grapevine Express became part of Zephyr Express and consolidated from 7970 Cameron to southern Napa Valley. Oscar and Marcela Aguilar with Donald and Valerie Arrodondo pooled their resources and three decades of combined experience at Grapevine and similar companies to start their own company in January 2007.
Novato-based Winery Exchange, which builds and markets national and corporate beer, wine and spirits brands worldwide, inked a sales and distribution deal with St. Helena-based JT Wines, maker of Flasq Wines, said to be the first and only U.S.-produced wine in aluminum bottles.
The exclusive multiyear agreement, announced last week, includes select regional and national account sales and distribution.
The design of the half-bottle (375 milliliters) to be chilled quickly, not break and be totally recyclable is targeted to Millennial and physically active consumers. The wine comes in California merlot and chardonnay varieties and retails for $5–$7 each.
“We believe there’s a strong market for premium wine in a convenient, eco-friendly container,” said Oliver Colvin, Winery Exchange chief operating officer. “The adventurous millennial demographic specifically is drawn to the uniqueness and mobility of the aluminum container, but purchases for the wine quality, accessibility and recyclability.”
The Flasq brand had early regional success but now needs a push into national and international markets, according to Dave Bon, JT Wines chief executive officer.
“This agreement is a solid move to facilitate the next phase of the Flasq Wines brand,” he said.
The wines are currently available at Cost Plus World Market stores nationwide, as well as select Total Wine & More, Vino Volo airport shops and Whole Foods Markets.
“The luxury part is what gives the whole portfolio credibility.” That’s how Constellation Brands Chief Executive Officer Rob Sands explained the company’s initial interest in Robert Mondavi Winery nearly a decade after the New York-based company acquired it for a whopping $1.36 billion and continued investment in the brand.
Constellation held a dinner party June 18 on the mezzanine of the To Kalon cellar for the winery to celebrate what would have been Robert Mondavi’s 100th birthday. Mr. Sands, his brother and Constellation Chairman Richard Sands, dignitaries such as Margit Biever Mondavi and Peter Mondavi plus a couple hundred company winemakers and executives plus trade associations, distributors and buyers from as far away as Asia.
“Rob knew this was the heart of Napa Valley,” Mrs. Mondavi said to the guests.
“Robert Mondavi wanted to show the world that California could make wine and be among the greatest wines of the world,” said Jay Wright, chief operating officer.
Also unveiled that day was a shift in the Robert Mondavi Winery Reserve cabernet sauvignon to a single-vineyard-designate wine from Mr. Monvavi’s prized To Kalon Vineyard. The 12-acre T Block of half-century-old sauvignon blanc vines was renamed Robert’s Block.
Mr. Mondavi died in May 2008 at age 94.
International Wine Accessories (iwawine.com) now has even more aficionado-ware for its catalog with the acquisition of Santa Barbara-based WineKeeper (winekeeper.com), which makes wine preservation and dispensing equipment for home and on-premise venues, by Cotati-based parent company Planet One Products, Inc.
Other wine-related companies in the Planet One portfolio are Le Cache Premium Wine Cabinets and CellarPro Cooling Systems. Products and services are sold online, via print and digital catalogs and through the IWA Design Center in Cotati.
“The ongoing service to our long-standing customers was a major concern,” said Norman Grant, founder of WineKeeper. He said he plans to work with Planet One companies to improve the product.
Planet One plans to maintain the brand, which fits well the the company’s other brands, according to co-owner Keith Sedwick.
“As an innovator in the wine dispensing market for 30 years, WineKeeper has built a loyal customer base and great line of products for both consumer and commercial use.”
Napa Valley Grapegrowers (napagrowers.org) held its second annual Día de la Familia street fair in downtown Napa for the valley’s farmworkers and their families on July 21.
About 2,000 attended the first event. During it, more than 40 community organizations highlight their services and programs for Napa’s farmworkers and their families. NVG.
“In creating Día de la Familia, we wanted not only highlight the incredible programs that local organizations provide for vineyard workers in Napa, but we also wanted to celebrate the farmworker community as a whole for what they bring to this special place,” said Rolando Sanchez, general manager of Walsh Vineyards Management and an event organizer.
Funding for the event comes from the Napa Valley Grapegrowers’ Farmworker Foundation, established in 2011.
Bank of the West and Fruition Sciences, an Oakland-based viticulture analysis technology developer with an office in Napa, are taking nominations through Dec. 6 for their new Vintage Report Innovation Award to celebrate innovation and sustainability in viticulture.
The most groundbreaking method, practice or approach used in or applicable to Napa County vineyards during the 2013 vintage will be awarded at Fruition Sciences’ 2013 Vintage Report conference Jan. 22.
“In our work in Napa Valley and other regions, we are inspired on a daily basis by the creativity we see among growers and winemakers,” said Adam Beak, head of Bank of the West’s Premium Wine Group.
Judges for the award are Dr. Jan Krupp, founder of Stagecoach Vineyard; Jim Barbour, founder and owner of Barbour Vineyards; Mark Matthews, professor at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Food and Wine at the University of California, Davis; Andy Beckstoffer, founder and owner of Beckstoffer Vineyards and a founding director of the Napa Valley Grape Growers Association in 1975; and Curtis Phillips, Wine Business Monthly senior technical editor.
The brain behind the direct-shipping advocacy group Specialty Wine Retailers Association, recently renamed the National Association of Wine Retailers to tackle more issues, is back with a new organization for consumers to campaign for freer access to wine via direct shipping, sales in supermarkets and privatization of government-owned stores.
Tom Wark, a Sonoma Valley-based wine industry publicist and blogger, started the American Wine Consumer Coalition and is its executive director, as he is for the aforementioned trade group. President of the coalition is David White, whose Terroirist: A Daily Wine Blog won the best-overall category in the 2013 Wine Blog Awards.
“In 2011 Congress held hearings on a bill (HR 1161) that, if passed, would have fundamentally and negatively impacted consumer access to wine, yet not a single consumer was invited to testify before Congress,” Mr. White said in a statement. “While this was not the first nor the last time those most impacted by these kinds of deliberations were shut out of the conversation, this is when it became clear to a number of wine consumers across the country that their voice is ignored, and that something needed to change.”
The newly formed organization notes these lingering problems since the 2005 Granholm ruling on direct shipping:
- 11 states ban residents from receiving wine from out-of-state wineries.
- 36 states bar out-of-state retailers from shipping wine to residents.
- 17 states ban residents from buying wine in grocery stores.
- four states ban Sunday purchases of wine.
- two states directly control the sale of wine.
- 15 states ban residents from bringing wine from home to a restaurant.
Coalition membership costs $35 a year for consumers, $100 for businesses and $300 for associations.
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