Calatrasi And The Mineo Family Vineyards, Leading Italian Wine Producers, Announce A Long Term Strategic Partnership For The US Market with Pelican Brands

Pelican Brands Will Import La Piazza And Allora Brands, Crafted By The Mineo Family In Collaboration With Calatrasi

Carmel, IN, USA – November 10th, 2010 – Pelican Brands, Calatrasi, and the Mineo Family announced today the formation of a long-term strategic partnership for the U.S. market.

The Mineo Family represents the alliance between Calatrasi, a leading Italian wine producer, and 500 individual Sicilian growers.  Italian wine is the number one imported wine category in the US.

Calatrasi produces nearly one million cases of wine annually and controls more than 1,100 hectares (2,700) acres in Sicily, Puglia and Tunisia.  Over the last 10 years, Calatrasi has reinvested over $14 million on improvements to the quality and value of their wines.  In 1998 Calatrasi created the D’istinto brand in co – ownership with BRL Hardy; the project achieved 300,000 cases in UK, becoming the number one Italian brand in UK.

Pelican Brands, Calatrasi and the Mineo Family announce their long-term strategic partnership with two co-owned brands, La Piazza and Allora. These wines are crafted from grapes grown in the Sicilian hills by the individual growers, who bring the harvest to Calatrasi winery to make the best wines from that region.  The La Piazza brand will also be launching a Pinot Grigio from the Veneto in early 2011.

Maurizio Miccichè , Owner of Calatrasi and founder of Mineo family Vineyards said, “We have been looking for some time  at the various options for entering the U.S. market. Our patience has paid off, as we have found our long-term partner in Pelican Brands.  We share Pelican Brands passion, energy, innovation spirit and long-term commitment to quality.”

J. Smoke Wallin, Chairman & CEO of Pelican Brands said, “Maurizio and I instantly connected with our shared passion for the wine business and vision for the future.  Calatrasi and Mineo are the perfect partners as we build out our wine platform in the U.S. market.”

La Piazza wines are fresh and rich wines that go well with any dish. The range includes 2 white wines, a blend of Catarratto (an indigenous grape varietal of Sicily) and Chardonnay, a Pinot Grigio and a red wine, which is a blend of Merlot and Nero d’Avola (an indigenous grape varietal of Sicily).

The Allora wines feature full-body, solid structure, fully represent the terroir of the Mediterranean area. The Allora range includes Viognier, Grillo (indigenous grape varietal) and Nero d’Avola from Sicily and Primitivo (Zinfandel) wine from Salento.

Franco Bernabei, Chief Winemaker of Calatrasi and Mineo Family Vineyards

Franco Bernabei has 30 years of winemaking experience in Italy, as winemaker for some of Italy’s most prestigious estates in Tuscany and Veneto. Over the years he has earned major awards and high praise from Robert Parker to the Wine Spectator.  He said about the new partnership “I believe that our wines will be a success in the U.S. market because they are crafted with the U.S. wine consumer’s palate in mind.”

“We have already tasted over 50 national chain buyers, prior to launch, on La Piazza and Allora to great acclaim.  Their response has been tremendous, giving us a strong sense of urgency to get these wines into the U.S.”  Arthur Massolo, EVP of Business Development for Pelican Brands

In the near future, Pelican Brands, Calatrasi and Mineo Family will launch a Super Premium brand for the On and Off- trade.

Maurizio Ghiori, CEO and Managing Director of Calatrasi and creator of Mineo Family Vineyards, said, “I strongly believe in the project and I think that Pelican Brands is the ideal partner for us. I believe that Calatrasi, Mineo Family and Pelican Brands will have great success in the U.S. market with La Piazza and the Allora brands.”

NOTE:  Posted last month, we are very excited with our partnership with Maurizio and the whole Calatrasi team.  These wines are an amazing value and in this market will out perform many long established brands.