The SOMM Journal

August/September 2014

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Page 30 of 119

{ }  31 { brand news } KENWOOD VINEYARDS HAS BEEN A SONOMA County pioneer since the '70s, showing a keen ability to produce solid, consistent, standout wines of both the white and red side of sipping. So much so, that French spirits giant Pernod Ricard decided to make them part of their family. "In the U.S., Pernod Ricard is predominantly known for spirits, but globally, it is a top-five wine supplier," says Matt Foley, newly minted Brand Director of Kenwood. Pernod Ricard closed the deal in late May to purchase the half-million-case producer from F. Korbel & Bros. "We have an ambition to become a top-ten U.S. wine supplier, and acquiring Kenwood will play a key role in achieving this goal." Right now, approximately 40 percent of Kenwood's sales are solidly settled in the Golden State. The other 60 percent has been a bit of a seed-scatter here and there throughout the rest of the country. And that's where both Kenwood and Pernod Ricard see room for the brand to flow. "We are looking to significantly expand the pres - ence of Kenwood in major wine markets across the country where we believe it is underdeveloped," says Foley, who adds that the East Coast in par- ticular is going to see a lot more Kenwood in the coming months and years. The brand's Sonoma series—a solid 300,000-case-a-year label—is slot- ted to be the belle of the ball. The line consists of a range of high-quality, affordable wines that range from $10–$12 SRP for the whites (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris) and $14–$17 for the reds (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir). But while the price point is, in part, Millennial-friendly, Pernod Ricard sees Gen-Xers and their more refined pal - ates as the real go-to target. "With Kenwood, we have a great opportunity to further educate consumers on the diversity and quality that Sonoma County offers and we can do it at a very accessible price point," says Foley. It's a smart strategy that would also bring new fans to Kenwood's other more premium-priced options: the single-vineyard, 20,000-case boutique label Jack London (using grapes sourced solely from the 1,400-acre Beauty Ranch, whose owners are direct descendants of the famed writer), and the on-premise Yalupa series, which has had great by- the-glass success. For more than 40 years, Kenwood has kept its focus tight, making sure its efforts go into produc - ing a small line of quality wines rather trying to be all things to all people. "In the '70s, Sonoma had a rebirth in the wine industry," says Foley. "And Kenwood was one of the wineries that helped put the appellation on the map." Now, with Pernod Ricard's muscle behind them, they're poised to do it all over again. Matt Foley is the new Brand Director for Kenwood. Photographed at Bobby Van's Grand Central in New York. A New Day for Kenwood PERNOD RICARD ENTERS DOMESTIC WINE BY PURCHASING A SONOMA STALWART Sipping standouts: Kenwood's signature Jack London Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, the Sonoma Series County Cabernet and Sauvignon Blanc and the Yulupa Chardonnay. by Amy Zavatto / photos by Lana Bortolot

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