Industry Issues

February 1, 2008
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Bottled water faces legal challenge in Washington
Following close on the heels of a new bottled water tax in Chicago, the state of Washington is considering a ban on petroleum-based water bottles. The proposed law would go into effect Jan. 1, 2010, and would ban the sale of petroleum-based water bottles “by any retail store, wholesale club or vending machine provider.” It also would prohibit state agencies from buying such products.
According to the bill, the proposed law would include bottles “made from a petroleum-based plastic not intended by the manufacturer to be a reusable container that is one liter in size or smaller and is marketed to contain nonflavored, uncarbonated drinking water.” The bill specifies that it does not include bottles made from corn or “other biological materials.” Proposed fines for the sale of such products are $250 per day.
The International Bottled Water Association issued a statement in response to the bill, saying, “Many people choose [bottled water] because it does not contain calories, caffeine, sugar, artificial flavors or colors, alcohol or other ingredients they want to avoid or moderate ... any actions that prevent consumers from drinking water, whether from the bottle or from the tap, are not in the public’s best interest.” It added, “It would be unfortunate that citizens in Washington would not be able to enjoy the benefits of bottled water because government administrators focused on one narrow segment of bottled beverages.”
Terlato forms new spirits division
Terlato Wines International, Lake Bluff, Ill., has formed a new luxury spirits division called Paterno Imports. The new division brings back the original name of the company created by Anthony Terlato and will carry Xellent Swiss Vodka as its first offering.
“A luxury spirits division is a natural next step in the evolution of our growing company,” said William Terlato, president and chief executive officer at the company. “We have the marketing and sales expertise in place and Xellent Swiss Vodka is the ideal brand to anchor the launch of this new division, with its distinguished quality and breakthrough packaging.”
Xellent is made from Swiss winter rye, and will launch nationwide in the United States this month.
Constellation sells brands to The Wine Group
Constellation Brands Inc., Fairport, N.Y., will sell the Almaden and Inglenook wine brands, and the Paul Masson winery in Madera, Calif., to The Wine Group LLC for $134 million. The companies expect the transaction to close by the end of this month.
"This transaction, when coupled with the recent acquisition of Clos du Bois, the No. 1 super-premium U.S. wine brand, will allow our wine sales forces to focus on selling higher-growth, higher-margin premium wines,” said Rob Sands, Constellation Brands president and chief executive officer.
Constellation plans to retain the Mission Bell Winery, also in Madera, Calif., allowing the company to increase premium wine production in California's San Joaquin Valley, it says. The winery also will provide wine production services to The Wine Group on a contract basis.
In other Constellation news, the company announced last month that its Barton Brands division has acquired the remaining 50 percent equity stake in its Planet 10 Spirits joint venture. Planet 10’s leading product is Effen vodka from Holland.
Republic adds Nebraska business
Republic National Distributing Co., Atlanta, has added Nebraska Wine & Spirits and Republic Beverage Co., Omaha, Neb., to its business.
Nebraska Wine & Spirits will operate as Republic National Distributing Co.-Nebraska, and will be led by Paul Epstein, who will serve as chief executive officer. Gary Epstein will be chief operating officer, and Harold Epstein, who founded Nebraska Wine & Spirits in 1975, will be chairman of the board of the new division.
Also in Nebraska, the company signed a letter of intent to acquire Republic Beverage Co., formerly known as United Distillers Products Co. Republic Beverage’s Chairman David Friedland, President Tom Friedland and the rest of the company’s management and sales teams will remain in their roles.
Widmer Brothers dedicate facility expansion
Kurt and Rob Widmer, founders of Widmer Brothers Brewing Co., Portland, Ore., dedicated their newest brewery expansion to their father, Ray Widmer, who recently retired from his duties at the facility.
The company expanded the brewery to include a 52,000-square-foot, three-level addition with new fermentation facilities, relocated keg washing and filling, new cold keg and bottle storage, office space, an additional shipping dock, and an expanded quality assurance lab. The expansion was dedicated to Ray Widmer on Jan. 11, in a private ceremony.
Kobrand splits wine, spirits
Kobrand Corp., Purchase, N.Y., has divided its wine and spirits portfolios into two sales and marketing companies – Kobrand Wines and Kobrand Spirits. The move is intended to enhance the focus, attention and strengths of each category.
“Our industry is continually confronted with seemingly endless consolidations and newly formed alliances at the supplier level, and as a result many producer/brand owners in the U.S. market feel that they have been relegated to a secondary position,” said Charles Palombini, president and chief executive officer of Kobrand Corp. “This ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach simply does not appropriately serve the needs of so many brands, and often discourages new brand initiatives.”
Tom Congdon will serve as vice president and director of spirits for the new spirits division, which consists of the Alizé, Delamain Grand Champagne Cognac, Depaz Blue Cane Amber Rhum, Café Bohême and Larressingle Armagnac brands.

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