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Product Innovation Focus Leads to First California Wine Designed by and for Women


WEBWIRE

NAPA, Calif.--April 4, 2005--
Napa’s Beringer Blass Wine Estates Unveils White Lie Early Season(TM) Chardonnay, a Premium Wine Low in Calories & Alcohol

In a bold move unusual for a normally staid and conservative industry, Beringer Blass Wine Estates (BBWE), a leading Napa-based premium wine company, is introducing the first premium California wine ever to be designed by women expressly for the U.S. female consumer. White Lie Early Season(TM) Chardonnay, trademarked because of the groundbreaking way in which the wine is made, is a great-tasting wine that is low in calories, sugar and alcohol, meeting the needs of today’s dynamic women who want to have it all. The wine will be on store shelves across the U.S. in May 2005.

“More than 60 percent of wine drinkers are female and women buy 80 percent of the wine sold in the U.S, yet the wine industry has largely ignored them,” says Tracey Mason, who, as BBWE’s Director of Innovation, spearheaded the project. “So our all-female team started with the question: What do women want?” Through research, the team discovered that an astounding 80 percent of women are dissatisfied with their appearance and that 45 percent are on a diet on any given day. And because of the increased demands of career and home, women have less time than ever for themselves or their friends. “That was our big ’Aha,’” says Mason. “We wanted women to feel better about themselves and their choices, realizing that often our desire to have it all means we have to give up something in return: that yummy dessert, the book we’ve been meaning to read, or just sharing a laugh with friends over a few glasses of wine. So, a wine that truly responded to today’s savvy woman has to have more than just a pretty label -- it also has to be great tasting and come from a reputable winery.”

With this premise in mind, Mason’s innovation team, which included BBWE winemaker Jane Robichaud, developed a technique for making the wine that involved harvesting the grapes relatively early in the picking season when they have lower Brix (or sugar content). This technique, dubbed Early Season(TM), results in a wine that is low in alcohol, sugar, and calories. The team chose Chardonnay, the nation’s long-time number one seller among females, as its first varietal.

The team also developed an innovative way of testing its new product among consumers. In lieu of the standard, sterile “focus group” set-up, Mason and her team led dinner parties in restaurants and homes, inviting females and their friends to try the wine in a more natural setting. “Our target doesn’t have time for focus groups, and besides, discussing the wine in a more casual environment led to better insight and ultimately more valuable product validation,” said Mason.

BBWE plans a groundbreaking marketing campaign to support the launch of White Lie Early Season (TM) Chardonnay. “Innovation doesn’t stop with product development,” says Mason. “The name, White Lie, was developed, in conjunction with the Launch Point, a division of TracyLocke, as a kind of ’wink-wink’ to our consumer, telling her ’we understand you.’ It connects with females without being too girly, and it’s a light hearted and engaging way to communicate the low alcohol/low calorie benefit without splashing ’diet’ across the front label.”

In addition to innovative packaging and in-store promotional materials, BBWE has hired consumer public relations firm Ruder Finn and is developing a marketing partnership with a well-known female author. White Lie Early Season(TM) Chardonnay will be unveiled to an exclusive group of New York media in late April; an extensive media campaign and interactive website are also planned. “We want to expand beyond traditional wine media and reach women through the mainstream media they consume: the internet, consumer magazines, TV, radio,” says Mason. “It’s a very different approach.”

Innovation is a cornerstone of BBWE’s aggressive growth plan in the United States. “The wine market in the U.S. is more competitive than ever, and we need to anticipate consumer needs if we want to be successful,” says Mason. “White Lie Early Season(TM) Chardonnay recognizes and responds to an under-served segment of wine buyers. In just ten months, we’ve brought this product from conception to market; innovation is permeating all parts of our organization.”

White Lie Early Season(TM) Chardonnay, made with premium grapes from Santa Barbara County, is affordably priced at under $10.00 per bottle. The wine will be available nationwide this summer, in major grocery chains and independent retailers with an initial launch in May 2005 in California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

Alcohol: 9.8%
RS= .05g/100ml
TA=.65g/100ml
pH=3.55
Brix (at harvest) = 21
Calories: 97.4 (per 5 oz serving)

About Beringer Blass Wine Estates

Beringer Blass Wine Estates offers an extensive portfolio of premium varietal wines from five countries: United States, Australia, Italy, Chile, and New Zealand. Formed by the Foster’s Group acquisition in October 2000 and the subsequent merging of California’s Beringer Wine Estates and Australia’s Mildara Blass, BBWE has quickly grown to become one of the world’s leading premium wine companies, with more than 15 unique wine properties and brands across the globe. Leading brands include Beringer Vineyards, Wolf Blass, Meridian Vineyards and Greg Norman Estates.



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