Wine spritzer makes comeback

GREG NINNESS
Last updated 05:00 30/03/2014
Invivo Wines directors Rob Cameron and Tim Lightbourne

EXPORT MARKET: Invivo Wines directors Rob Cameron and Tim Lightbourne with their new Scarlett’s Spritzers drink destined for export markets.

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The wine spritzer could be making a comeback with a local wine company exporting it by the container load.

Invivo Wines launched it's Scarlett's Spritzers range in this country six weeks ago and co-founder Tim Lightbourne is now busy loading a shipping container of the drink which is headed for Canada.

That follows export success in Japan and Bulgaria and next month Lightbourne will be loading his first container of spritzers bound for Australia.

Spritzers have traditionally been made by pouring white wine over ice and topping up the glass with soda and sometimes adding fruit juice as well.

They had a burst of popularity in the 1980s when they were often known as wine coolers, but their popularity waned after the introduction of pre-mixed, spirit-based drinks known as RTDs.

Lightbourne said the time was right for a spritzer revival because of the growing popularity of drinks such as ciders and flavour-infused craft beers.

The category was ready for a wine-based alternative, he said.

Invivo is using its sauvignon blanc or pinot gris wines as the base for its pre-mixed spritzers and adding fruit essences sourced either locally or from Australia.

Two flavours are being sold on the domestic market, elderflower & lime and wild berries, with another three flavours - passionfruit, mango & orange and wild strawberry - going to export markets.

Because the spritzers are neither wine nor beer, this country's liquor licensing laws prevent them being sold through supermarkets, and Lightbourne said more than 100 specialty outlets were already stocking them here, a mix of bars/restaurants and liquor stores.

In liquor stores they sell for $6.99 for a 500ml bottle or $16.99 for a four pack of 330ml bottles and they have an alcohol level of 5 per cent, the same as most premium beers and well below the 12-14 per cent alcohol levels of most wines.

Because it's a new drink category, it would require quite a lot of marketing support, Lightbourne said, and that meant Invivo's profit margin on the Scarlett's range was initially "quite tight", especially while production runs were still relatively small.

"But once economies of scale start happening it will be a profitable business model," he said.

Based on initial sales, Lightbourne expects to sell 500,000 bottles in the first year and believed there was the potential for sales of spritzers to overtake the sales of Invivo's wines in 2015.

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- Sunday Star Times

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