Popular Wine Brand Trying its Hand at Craft Beer

Dear Client:

We’ve seen a whole lot of brewers dipping their toes into wine & spirits lately, but wine & spirits companies taking a crack at beer, eh, not so much.

Today, however, we bring you news that bucks that trend.

A fairly popular wine brand is testing three craft beers – an IPA, a pilsner, and a lager – in Ohio as we speak.

WHO? The wine brand is none other than 19 Crimes, which as you may know belongs to Treasury Wine Estates, a top five wine company in the world.

The brand has been a force for TWE here in the states, as it’s in its “sixth year of phenomenal growth in the US, with sales exceeding two million cases,” according to TWE CMO Michelle Terry.

WHY GET INTO BEER? “We know that our 19 Crimes wine lovers also highly index as consumers of craft beer,” Michelle said in a release. Plus, “there is so much opportunity with this brand, and our retailers and customers have been asking us to expand into other alcohol beverages.”

INTERESTING PRICE POINT. All three brews will come in cans and feature the familiar labels found on 19 Crimes Wine bottles. Then, get this: each beer will carry a suggested retail price of $12.99 per six-pack (a pretty hefty price tag we must say for the lager and pilsner, in particular; further curious as the wine brand isn’t quite upscale, at sub $10/bottle).

HITTING OHIO FIRST, MORE STATES TO COME. The beers hit Ohio earlier this month, and will “expand to more states in the U.S. by the end of the year,” according to the release.

More to come soon.


A trio of former A-B associates, led by Gregg Billmeyer — who spent almost 30 years at the brewery, including a short stint as VP of premium lights — have teamed up to start Quest Beverage. The mission? To import “authentic Mexican craft beers” to the U.S.

The 2-year-old company is now importing two brands, Cerveza Rrëy and Cerveza Urbana, in Houston, Kansas City and St. Louis. They’ll expand to Southern California and Illinois later this month.

Between the two brewers, Quest has a portfolio of four styles: From Cerveza Rrëy, based in Monterrey, Mexico, they’ve got two easy drinkers: a Kölsch, and a London-style ale (“inspired by traditional English brown ales common in pubs” there). They’re both in the 4%-ish ABV range.

From Mexicali’s Cerveza Urbana, they’ve got a more contemporary brew with Urbana’s Crossover IPA, a West Coast IPA style at 6.5%. Urbana also has a 4.5% ABV Blonde Ale.

We had to know: Why import Mexican craft brands when there are more than 7,000 home grown right here in the US of A?

And even Gregg’s former employer, the largest brewer in the world, hasn’t exactly struck huge volumes with recent Mexican import plays.

“The fundamental difference is in the segment we are trying to create which is imported craft beer,” Gregg said. “I believe AB’s efforts have focused on traditional lagers that are similar to what is already available. We feel our proposition is new and very unique.”

He told CBD they plan to import 1,800 barrels into the markets they are currently in.

Their distributor list includes a bunch of heavy hitter A-B houses. The total lineup:
Silver Eagle Distributing in Houston;
Major Brands in Missouri;
Donnewald, Grey Eagle, Ronchetti, Skeff, and Golden Eagle distributors in Illinois; and
Straub, Co-Hop, Triangle and Ace Distributors in Los Angeles.

But don’t expect them to bring on new brands anytime soon.

“We are always open to additional brewers but don’t have plans to bring on any additional partners at this time,” Gregg told CBD. “We are focused on developing Cerveza Urbana and Cerveza Rrëy into the leading Mexican craft brands in the US.”


DOGFISH HEAD TAKING ITS SPIRITS TO NEW JERSEY. Dogfish Head is teaming up with its beer distributor in New Jersey, Hunterdon Distributing, to bring its “collection of 100 percent scratch-made spirits” to the Garden State, per company announcement. Dogfish will release its “full portfolio” of spirits in the state, which include Sonic Archeology, Compelling Gin, Barrel Honey Rum, Analog Vodka and Roasted Peanut Vodka. The rollout marks the fifth territory for Dogfish Head Distilling Co., joining Delaware, Maryland, Northern Virginia and Washington D.C.

Until tomorrow,
Jenn, Jordan, and Harry

“Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.” – Mahatma Gandhi

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