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California exports value rise as volumes fall

California exports value rise as volumes fall, but exports to the UK are up despite currency headwinds.
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California this week announced that its international sales leapt in value. Sales of California wines to the UK rose from $284 million in 2015 to $337 million in 2016. This was despite a strengthening in the US dollar after the Trump election and a fall in the pound associated with Brexit.

Volumes to the UK were up 5% and the value was up 18% according to the California Wine Institute. The Institute claims it in on target for $400million in exports to the UK by 2020. The UK is the USA's second biggest market behind Canada, which has not been holding up with value, falling by 6% to $431 million.

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Lady Goes Gaga over Grigo Girls

Lady Gaga has been reported to be getting ready to launch a celebrity wine.
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Lady Gaga's company has filed paper work to produce wine, wine coolers, wine cocktails and wine punches according to celebrity news site

Gaga plans to launch her own brand of wine called Grigio Girls named after a bonus track on her 2016 album, Joanne.

Grigio Girls is thought to be a brand rather than a winery as there is no mention of her owning vineyards like other celebrity couples such as Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt who produce Miravel Provence rosé.

American rapper Jay Z has an ownership stake in the Armand de Brignac Champagne. While film director Francis Ford Coppola’s Californian wines are to be served at the 2017 Oscars ceremony.

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Nyetimber takes the title of worst press in 2017 so far...

Nyetimber's ex sales director lifted the lid on what it is like at Nyetimber during an employment tribunal case of unfair dismissal.
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Nyetimber has had a lot of bad press recently, whether it is reports that owner Eric Heerema smashed up glasses at the Savoy, to stories of unhappy staff, to links with Nazi SS. The PR people are struggling to spin a positive story to maintain the brand's luxury position.

Nyetimber started out in 1988 when two Americans Sandy and Stuart Moss decided to plant a sparkling wine focused producer. At the time this was very radical. Awards started to arrive shortly afterwards with Top Sparkling wine at the International Wine & Spirit Competition, for the Nyetimber Classic Cuvée 1993. The Queen even chose it for her 50th Wedding Anniversary bash. They lead the way and opened up the possibility of quality sparkling wines made to the traditional method. Ownership changed several times until Eric Heerema purchased Nyetimber in 2006. At the time Eric had a much larger vineyard about to come into production. The purchase allowed Eric to leverage the very small Nyetimber vineyard and brand into his much larger property. After a significant re-shuffle in the business Eric continued expanding his previous vineyards and turning the boutique producer into one of the larger UK producers.

Staff turnover had been very high in the early years with the role of sales manager changing hands numerous times. Back in 2009 Francis Brackley joined the team to replace Stephen Clark who only lasted a year. Then Christian Holthausen who came from Piper-Heidsieck joined in 2012 and left after 18 months in 2014. Recently, James Mason, Nyetimber’s most recent former head of sales, left. James, who is bringing an unfair dismissal claim, claimed half the workforce of 59 either quit or were sacked in less than two years because of Mr Heerema’s aggressive behaviour. Mr Mason, 41, told the hearing that Nyetimber was blacklisted by The Savoy after the Dutch tycoon flew into a rage, smashing glasses and insulting bar staff at a drinks reception sponsored by Nyetimber where Savoy waiting staff were serving drinks.
He claimed Mr Heerema swept a table full of Savoy-branded glasses on to the floor and shouted at a bartender during the event at the Burlington Arcade in London.

The incident is said to have prompted the head of food and drinks at The Savoy to write to Nyetimber saying that he would no longer do business with the vineyard because of Mr Heerema’s ‘appalling behaviour’.

Things took a decided dark twist when the Daily Mail searched into Eric family history uncovering that his Father was a Dutch SS officer during WW2. The mail claimed that his father Pieter Heerema expressed his fervent support of Nazism, giving a speech in which he spoke of the ‘model’ German race and adding: ‘The Jewish race by comparison is parasitic... therefore the Jewish question must be resolved in every Aryan country.’

While it is inappropriate to blame the sins of the father on the son, it seems that Eric’s fortune that he used to purchase Nyetimber appears to have been part of the £388 million profit made from selling his father’s engineering business.

For a luxury brand that trades on its brand perception, too much bad press makes for poor business.

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Christmas in Yorkshire is all about the Vodka

Christmas drinks sales results in
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Drinks distributor Matthew Clark has reported that online Christmas trade orders in 2016 rose by almost a third in volume vs the previous year. Online sales through their Matthew Clark Live platform in December jumped 27% by value and 29% in terms of the number of orders placed compared to 2015, as pubs, bars, and restaurants stocked up ahead of a busy festive period. Prosecco accounted for three of its five best-selling products, but there was also a good performance in spirits, particularly vodka, which accounted for the other two top spots.

However there was a regional variation, with Yorkshire seeing the greatest demand for vodka, and accounting for 40% of online orders, Greater London accounting for a third of non-vintage Champagne orders and gin being the most popular in London. The South West saw strong port and sherry sales.

In our recent poll we asked what you will be drinking on Christmas day. Results showed that 53% prefer to drink sparkling wines vs 39% choosing still wines and for just 8% a fortified wine is the drink of choice.

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Ridgeview exporting to US

British Fizz exporting to the US
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Ridgeview, one of our favourite producers here at ThirtyFifty, are now fully ready to export their wines to the US. The English wine producer has signed a distribution deal with New York-based Banville Wine Merchants as it seeks to grow its export sales.
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Try January not Dry January

eBay auction has bumper sales of wine related items
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It was more a case of Try January not Dry January for grocers at the start of 2017. According to supermarkets, shoppers were stocking up on alcohol. Despite an estimated 2 million who gave up alcohol in in January, eBay reported 84,000 wine related items being sold in January. Significant price cutting in January and an emphasis on more simple and permanent offers could continue to benefit the grocery sector over the coming year according to Nielsen figures.
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Also this month

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Do the politics of a country influence your wine purchasing?