February 20, 2007
Wine in a Box
Ryan Sproulee sauntered into the New Times office Friday afternoon, yet another vendor in town for the boat show.
The chipper, silver haired man produced three black milk-carton sized boxes containing the equivalent of 12 bottles of wine –the finest box wine, Sproulee conteded, in the country.
Sproulee began his venture in 2003, selling high-end bulk wine in vacu-sealed bladders. The wine would stay fresh for up to four months after opening and, at $22 dollars a box, it worked out to roughly $5.50 a bottle. Today his product, “Black Box Wines, ranks number seventeen in wine sales nationwide.
The second largest market, outside of northern California, is South Florida. The reason? Mainly boaters. “They just love the stuff,” Sproulee giggled, as he shot a foamy stream of decidedly drinkable Cabernet into a small glass. “It’s just a major part of the culture… boating and drinking.” The boxes, he says, are selling like hot cakes.
So the next time you’re out on the water and some yacht comes careening towards you –keep a lookour for that little black box. It may not help much with the wreck, but it’ll sure get you drunk while you wait for the Coast Guard. –Calvin Godfrey
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Premium boxed wine maker starts $4.5 million ad campaign
East Bay Business Times
February 26, 2007
by Chris Rauber
Fisheye Wines, a unit of the Wine Group specializing in wines packaged in 3 liter casks, rolled out a $4.5 million national TV ad campaign on Oscar night, aimed at 25- to 40-year-old wine drinkers.
The campaign premiered last week, airing during E! Channel's Academy Awards' Red Carpet shows on Sunday and on ABC's Grey's Anatomy and Boston Legal earlier in the week, said David Kase, president of San Francisco-based Kase Media Solutions, which plans for and purchases media time and space for its clients.
It features "hip" 30-second spots targeting young wine drinkers. The ads will run throughout the first half of the year on prime-time first-run episodes of ABC's Desperate Housewives, Lost, Grey's Anatomy, Brothers and Sisters and Boston Legal.
The new ads are meant to reinforce the growing popularity of both Fisheye Wines and "premium cask" or boxed packaging, say officials at Fisheye and its marketing partners. AC Nielsen data, for example, shows the category is the fastest growing segment of the wine business, up 44 percent over the past year, compared to just 3 percent growth in overall table wine sales.
According to Fisheye, each of its three-liter casks -- which are cardboard packages holding a collapsible bag holding the wine -- store the equivalent of four bottles of wine in a package that fits neatly into a refrigerator. That's slightly less than other boxed wines in 5-liter containers, which hold the equivalent of seven bottles. "Clearly the focus is, as the tag line says, 'Better wine, better idea,' " said John Randazzo, president of San Francisco's B.A.R.C. Communications, the marketing agency that developed the campaign, noting that "casks" sounds better than "boxes" when describing the product, and that Fisheye came to his agency looking for a way to link its packaging to the industry's traditional casks.
The Wine Group, based in San Francisco, is one of the nation's largest wine producers -- it sold about 42 million cases in 2005, according to Wine Business Monthly. Fisheye's brands include six premium vintage-dated varietals -- shiraz, chardonnay, merlot and cabernet sauvignon, sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio. Its Fisheye 2005 pinot grigio in a 3-liter cask was recently awarded a Gold Medal at the 2007 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
Fisheye used B.A.R.C. to produce computer-enhanced imagery linking Fisheyes' contemporary-looking cardboard casks with the heavy-duty wooden casks used for centuries to store fine wines. One spot opens on a painting in the William Hogarth tradition, depicting 18th century revelers tapping into a cask of wine. Using stop-motion animation, the Hogarth era characters come alive and move into a modern-day pop art gathering.
"As screw caps replace corks, wine aficionados are increasingly looking for alternative ways to keep wine fresh longer," Alan Blavins, B.A.R.C.'s creative director, said in a statement. "Smarter-designed casks can maintain optimal taste for as long as six weeks. This campaign helps convey both the quality inside the cask and the quality of the cask itself."
Rauber is a reporter for the San Francisco Business Times.