Johnson Bros. Expands into WV via Partnership with Mount State Bev

Minnesota’s Johnson Brothers Liquor Company has announced it is expanding its distribution footprint into West Virginia through a joint venture with the Rucker Family and Mountain State Beverage. Mountain Beverage has the largest distribution reach in the state, covering 55 counties. Its wine portfolio includes 2,300 wines and includes the likes of Trinchero Family Estates, E&J Gallo, and Jackson Family Wines among several others.

“Johnson Brothers is going to help us take things to a whole new level,” says Mountain Beverage managing partner Scott Parkes. “I’m excited about the opportunity for growth for our employees, customers, and suppliers.”

With the expansion into West Virginia, Johnson Brothers has a 23-state footprint including: AL, AZ, CA, CT, FL, HI, IA, ID, IL, KY, MA, MI, NE, NC, ND, NM, NV, NY, RI, SD, WA, WI and WV.

“We are extremely proud to be partnering with the Rucker family,” says Johnson Bros. ceo Michael Johnson. “They’ve built a very strong company and we hope to make it even better by adding even more focus, attention, and resources.”


As we get a little further into 2017, the 2016 yearly data is starting to roll in. Total alcohol spending was up 4.2% in 2016, reaching $233.5 billion in sales, according to the recent BW166 Total Beverage Alcohol Review. Sales growth in 2016 showed a slight deceleration compared to 2015 at 4.7% growth, though beer, wine and spirits all showed volume growth for the year.

Wine volumes entering the market showed the most growth, reaching nearly 400 million cases in 2016, an increase of 3.1% over last year. Sparkling wine experienced the fastest growth rate at 13.55%. Breaking it down between domestic and imports, total domestic wine was up 1.93%, while imported packaged wine was up nearly 3%. This reflects the growing interest in imports we reported on in the recent Rabobank quarterly wine report [see WSD 01-12-2017].

Total spirits volumes entering the market were up nearly 2% to 221.3 million cases for the period, improving over its 2015 growth of just 0.57%. Tequila and mezcal showed strong growth for the year, with volumes up a collective 7.37%. Vodka and gin also experienced decent growth for the year, up 2.55% and 1.81%, respectively. Whiskey volumes showed a slight deceleration for the year with a -2.3% drop in volumes. Rum was also down for the year at -4%.

While beer volumes entering the market were up 1.31% to 209.3 million barrels, thanks largely to Mexican imports. Beer reported the lowest growth rate is reflected in each category’s share of beverage servings, with beer down 0.43%, spirits up 0.25% and wine up 0.76%.

[SIDEBAR: You may recall, to capture total market trends, BW166 measures “volumes entering the market,” meaning they look at the tax paid shipments entering the market, which they believe has “very little variation in total” from what’s ultimately being sold to the consumer on a 12-month basis.]


Agajanian Vineyards and Wine Company, a California-based bulk wine and wine grape supplier, has taken a minority stake in Napa Valley Distillery (NVD). NVD was founded by husband and wife team, Arthur and Lusine Hartunian, in 2009 as a distillery, tasting room, bar shop and event center. They are best known for Napa Vodka, but they make several small-batch limited release spirits.

Agajanian brings production supplies, resources, experience and connections within the alcohol industry to the table, while NVD allows Agajanian to “expedited entry into the fast growing craft-spirits market not simply as a supplier more importantly as equity partner,” says president Gary Agajanian. “It’s a win-win for the both of us.”


PERNOD RICARD’S ABSOLUT OFFICIALLY LAUNCHES ABSOLUT LIME at this year’s Grammy Awards on February 12, per a release. Lime is the newest addition to the Absolut citrus portfolio alongside Citron and Mandarin. Absolut Lime is available nationwide at a suggested retail price of $20 a 750 ml and $25 a 1L.

Until tomorrow,
Your Editors

Emily Pennington –
Sarah Barrett –

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