The Winebow Group’s COO Scott Ades Departs

WSD has learned Scott Ades, The Winebow Group’s coo and longtime employee, is parting ways with the company effective today. He is leaving to pursue a position where he can be “the executive running a company,” per an internal memo to TWBG staff.

Scott has been with the company for 11 years, beginning as svp of corporate development for Winebow Inc. in November 2005. “My time at Winebow and The Winebow Group has been an extraordinary journey. I have worked with and built relationships with many fantastic people. Because of you, TWBG is a uniquely positioned company in our industry. I have no doubt that the company, all of you and our suppliers will be very successful. You have all been an incredible family and home for me over the last decade,” writes Scott.

“While I am very sad to have Scott leave us, I am very thankful for his tenure with The Winebow Group and the contributions he has made to our development into an industry leader. All of us at The Winebow Group wish Scott well in his future endeavors,” says TWBG chief David Townsend

FL WINE RETAILER FILES SUIT AGAINST MISSOURI OVER OUT-OF-STATE SHIPPING BAN

Florida-based retailer Magnum Wine and Tastings has filed suit in Missouri federal court, claiming that the state’s lockdown on out-of-state sales from a retailer is unconstitutional.

The complaint alleges the state law allowing Missouri retailers to sell, ship and deliver wine directly to Missouri consumers while excluding out-of-state wine retailers violates the Commerce Clause and Privileges and Immunities law. Thus, discriminating against out-of-state wine retailers.

Magnum wine claims that because it carries many wines that are not available in Missouri–like older vintages, limited production items and private labels–it has received multiple requests from consumers to have the wine shipped. One of the plaintiffs is Missouri resident Michael Schlueter who says he would purchase from out-of-state retailers if the law allowed it. The complaint goes on to say that the plaintiffs intend to pay any taxes due and comply with all other non-discriminatory regulations.

The plaintiffs are seeking an injunction, barring the state from enforcing the law, an award of costs and expenses and any other relief the court deems appropriate. Though similar suits seeking the same relief in Missouri have failed, per Alcohol Law Review blog.

PLCB SAYS PRICE NEGOTIATIONS ARE “OPEN, TRANSPARENT AND COLLABORATIVE”

Yesterday we reported on the lesser known aspect of the Pennsylvania’s recent alcohol legislation (Act 39), giving the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) the ability to implement “pricing flexibility” [see WSD 10-06-2016]. Industry trade groups are none too pleased with the PLCB’s increased power over pricing, so your editors got on the horn with PLCB director of comms Elizabeth Brassell to take a look at the issue from the other side.

First things first, the PLCB has two main driving factors behind the development of its flexible pricing proposal: (1) generate more revenue and (2) establish more competitive prices, according to Elizabeth.

Recall, the Distilled Spirits Council (DSC) called for transparency about the implementation of the flexible pricing practice. “A number of industry groups have reached out to us and we are being as open and transparent as we can, but understanding that these are individual business negotiations,” Elizabeth tells WSD.

Another concern raised is that this new rule leaves suppliers with no control over the price of their product. But Elizabeth points out that it gives the PLCB the same amount of power to negotiate costs as other retailers, adding that the negotiations will continue to be an ongoing process. “We have certainly done a lot of research” on where shelf pricing and costs are in other states, Elizabeth tells WSD, adding that in these meetings “we can say ‘Hey, we know we’re not getting as good of a deal as border state xyz.'”

However, that doesn’t mean the PLCB is drawing a line in the sand on where the costs need to be. Rather, “let’s have a dialogue about how we can negotiate the best cost for Pennsylvania,” she says. So far, the PLCB has had about 60 meetings with suppliers and plans to wrap them up by this month.

The goal is to have some of the new costs in place by November 1. And decisions will be made about whether retail pricing will go up, down or stay the same after feedback from suppliers has been presented to the PLCB’s board.

TWE FIGHTS BACK OVER STAG’S LEAP TRADEMARK SUIT

Two months ago Ste. Michelle Wine Estates subsidiary Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars filed a trademark infringement suit against Treasury Wine Estate’s Stags’ Leap Winery over use of the word “Stag” on a proposed wine product not sourced from the Stag’s Leap District or Napa Valley [see WSD 08-29-2016]. In response, Treasury Wine Estates Americas Company (TWEAC) filed a motion to dismiss yesterday.

“…to support [SMWE’s] concocted story of alleged bad faith, [they]
focus on TWEAC’s earliest labeling requests that [they] admit have since been modified… Indeed, the first early label, which has already been modified twice, as described in [SMWE’S] own allegations, forms the primary basis for several of [SMWE’s] claims, despite the failure to allege use in interstate commerce of those initial labeling requests.

The image of the stag has long been associated with TWE’s Australian-based St. Huberts winery, which was established in 1862, according to TWE. The plan is to launch a North Coast cabernet under the St. Huberts brand, stag and all. TWE claims that it was “made very clear” to SMWE that its use of “stag” has no connection to the Stags’ Leap Winery or Stags Leap District before the complaint was filed.

“We believe SLWC and SMWE are not trying to protect the Stags Leap District, but instead are trying to use the legal system to stifle lawful competition,” says TWE in a release. “Our strategy is to build global brands across multiple markets and with wine sourced from multiple regions – this is no different.”

WSD BRIEFS:

ON-PREMISE CAT-MAN STRATEGIES LAG CHANGING CONSUMER PREFERENCES. Nielsen CGA’s latest on-premise report confirms the usual suspects (Tequila, Cognac, Single Malt whisky and Irish whiskey) are driving category growth. Cognac sales took the highest leap, up nearly 37% for the quarter, followed by Single Malt (+12.5%), Irish whiskey (+11.4%) and tequila (+8.9%) for the quarter ended mid-August. Though Cordials and Canadian whisky sales are a little under the weather, dropping 4% and 1.3%, respectively. “From the latest data it shows that Whiskeys, Tequila and Cognac/Brandy are still under-spaced in the average bar or restaurant given their value-contribution and trend direction. With this in mind, suppliers will need to grow sales by working with distributors and retailers to ensure category management strategies reflect these changing consumer preferences,” says Scott Elliot, svp of Nielsen CGA.

PERNOD’S REDBREAST IRISH WHISKEY TO RELEASE LIMITED EDITION SHERRY FINISH. Redbreast Irish Whiskey, in partnership with Bodegas Lustau, has created a new permanent expression to its Single Pot Still family called Redbreast Lustau Edition. It is initially matured in a combination of bourbon and sherry casks, then finished for one year in Bodegas Lustau’s Oloroso sherry butts and bottled at 92 proof. Redbreast Lustau Edition is available in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York and Texas at approximately $70 a 750 ml.

WSD SUMMIT SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES. WSD will be accepting a limited number of sponsorships for our 2017 Summit at the Hotel Del Coronado in January. For more info on pricing and opportunities, please email rena@winespiritsdaily.com.

Until Monday,
Your Editors

Emily Pennington – emily@winespiritsdaily.com
Sarah Barrett – sarah@winespiritsdaily.com

“You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.” — Cormac McCarthy

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