News Briefs

Vermont Pure Holdings acquired the assets of two home and office distributors through its Crystal Rock subsidiary. White Ribbon Spring Water, Laconia, N.H., and Mayer Brothers, Rochester, N.Y., add about 1,700 customers to Vermont Pure’s existing business. The company reported the combined acquisitions could add nearly $1 million in annual sales.
Napa Valley vintners won round one in a battle to preserve the geographic uniqueness of their wines. The California Supreme Court overturned a lower court decision that blocked enforcement of a recent California law designed to prevent winemakers using the word Napa on their wines unless their grapes originate from the area. Apparently, a loophole existed that allowed wines to use the Napa Valley moniker without actually using Napa Valley grapes.
Contraband whisky, to the tune of $1.4 million, was confiscated by Kuwaiti police, according to the local news agency. The illegal libation was seized from a truck crossing the border from Iraq into Kuwait through a gate used exclusively by U.S.–led coalition forces. The Syrian driver was arrested.
Jacob’s Creek, the leading Australian wine brand in the United States, expanded its distribution into more than 300 Wal-Mart stores in 22 states in the United States. Chardonnay, Shiraz, Shiraz Cabernet and Merlot will be offered through the discount retailer.
Coca-Cola Bottling Co. will invest $9 million in a new sales, warehouse and distribution facility to be built in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Ground-breaking for the new 76,000-square-foot facility is planned for this month, with completion expected by the spring of 2005.
Bacardi Ltd. completed its purchase of Grey Goose Vodka from Sidney Frank Importing Co. With the purchase, Bacardi becomes an instant player in the vodka category.
Anheuser-Busch is giving its Williamsburg, Va., brewery a $200- million makeover. The redesign of the facility will update technology within the plant for a more consistent and reliable brewing process. Among the changes, the plant’s five bottling lines will be replaced with three new ones. One is already up and running, packaging an average of 1,000 bottles per minute.
Sears Roebuck is hopping on the superstore bandwagon — even if a bit belatedly. The department store scion launched its own Sears Grand megastore concept in Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and suburban Chicago, hoping to invigorate its sales and perk up its image. By the end of next year, Sears expects to open as many as 15 such locations. The all-in-one Sears Grand stores range in size from 160,000 to 201,000 square feet, and are situated in smaller malls (think Wal-Mart). All of Sears’ traditional offerings are supplemented by groceries and shopping carts.
Labatt Breweries recently announced that it would close one of its British Columbia breweries in April 2005. The facility in New Westminster, a suburb of Vancouver, currently has 180 employees, who will be eligible to receive transitional funding Labatt has set aside in preparation for next year’s closure. The second of the two breweries the company runs in British Columbia will remain open.
Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, is being sued by former partner Procter & Gamble Co., Cincinnati, Ohio, for allegedly infringing on preservative patents on its fruit drinks. According to the suit, P&G claims Coke’s Minute Maid fruit beverages infringe on patents controlling the growth of microorganisms. A pending patent dispute filed in 2002 by P&G alleges Coca-Cola infringed on P&G’s technology to add calcium to orange juice.