Banfi Vintners Appoints Empire Merchants in NYC


Dear Client:

Empire Merchants, which is part of The Charmer Sunbelt Group (CSG), was selected to distribute Long Island-based Banfi Vintners in metro New York (formerly distributed by Southern Wine & Spirits of New York). The partnership will take effect October 1. CSG already distributes Banfi in upstate New York, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, and South Carolina.

"It is a great honor that Banfi Vintners has selected us to distribute their portfolio in New York City," said Charmer chief Charles Merinoff. "With this new affiliation, The Charmer Sunbelt Group becomes the sole distributor for Banfi Vintners throughout New York State, as we have represented the Banfi Vintners portfolio in upstate New York for several years.”


Since announcing plans to cut 900 jobs at the Johnnie Walker packaging plant in Kilmarnock and the Port Dundas grain distillery in Glasgow, Diageo has garnered a lot of heat despite intentions to create 400 jobs at a new factory in Leven, Fife. So much so that Scottish finance minister John Swinney even proposed a taxpayer-funded plan meant to save jobs and keep Diageo in those respective towns. Diageo rejected his proposals today, claiming that John’s plan would cost the company a lot more money and still lead to 500 job losses.

In a statement featured in several papers including WSJ and The Daily Telegraph, David Gosnell, Diageo’s managing director of global supply, summed it up by saying: "We examined the alternative proposals thoroughly. They don't deliver a business model that would be good for either Diageo or Scotland.”

He went on to say that the plan only gives a short term solution and simply delays the closure at Port Dundas. About 500 jobs would still be lost and there would be "no investment at Leven and minimal job creation there."

"We need a sustainable Scottish operation that supports our international spirits business and provides a future for the 4,000 people we would employ in Scotland after this restructuring is completed.”

Talks with ministers are now officially over as Diageo shifts its focus to employees and trade unions.


Recall that Tesco, the small-format grocery store that rolled out 125 Fresh & Easy stores in southern California, Las Vegas and Phoenix over the past two years, had said in the Spring it was slowing the pace of store openings in its existing areas and that it would delay its move into northern California, originally planned for this year, because of the economy. But Tesco has continued to add to almost 50 store sites already acquired in communities including San Francisco, Sacramento and San Jose as well as Reno, Nevada, reports the FT. This month it reportedly paid $3.75m for two plots in the East Bay area, while it has also acquired a third site in San Francisco this summer.

Fresh & Easy has also completed work on the structure of a distribution center in an industrial park in Stockton, CA that it will use to service new northern California stores when they open, supplementing a similarly large facility, east of Los Angeles, that serves its existing locations.


VILLA MARIA ESTATE of New Zealand has appointed Ron Mertz, based in Overland Park, Kansas, as president of its US operations. Ron most recently worked as president of Lion Nathan – USA, and has also held senior management positions with Foster’s Wine Estates among others.

SWAN’S NECK VODKA, owned by L&P Spirits Imports, has appointed Pacific Edge Wine & Spirits as its distributor in California. It also named Milt Klungness and Wild West Wines & Spirits as its broker in Wyoming.

BULLETPROOF WINE AND SPIRITS, a brokerage in Palm Beach County, Florida, announced it has inked a contract with Seven Hills Winery of Washington State.

VINEYARD BRANDS has been appointed the exclusive distributor for New Zealand’s Peregrine winery and their new label, Mohua.

GAUGING THE INDUSTRY: WSD’S BI-ANNUAL SURVEY. Thanks to those who have taken time to answer our anonymous survey over the past week. We’ve had a record number of respondents so far and are truly impressed with their insights. We’d love to hear from everyone so please click here if you haven’t yet had the chance to answer our 5 short questions. We plan on posting our results next Monday.

Until tomorrow, Megan

“Humor is just another defense against the universe.”
Mel Brooks

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