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Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits Announces Addition of Gray Whale Gin to Spirits Portfolio

STAMFORD, CT – October 15, 2019 – Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits is expanding its spirits portfolio with the addition of a super-premium American Gin. The company has entered into a 50/50 joint venture partnership on the Gray Whale Gin brand, with founders Jan and Marsh Mokhtari. The deal closed earlier this month.

Gin over $30 has been growing double digits for the past several years. Most recently, it grew +26% in 2018 and is nearly the same size as the American Rye Whiskey segment. 1 Gray Whale is currently available in California and Connecticut. The brand’s performance in California is strong, and Deutsch Family plans to launch it nationally in three waves, introducing Gray Whale to consumers in 17+ additional states over the next 12 months.

“As a family-owned company we are always looking to partner with other family brands that share our core values,” said Peter Deutsch, CEO, Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits. “Gray Whale has it all: founders who are passionate about the brand; a compelling and authentic brand story, exceptional liquid and a standout package. Marsh and Jan have created an excellent brand foundation for Gray Whale, we look forward to building on that and introducing the brand to new consumers.”

“Building a scaled spirits portfolio of craft and super-premium brands is a high strategic imperative for us,” said Tom Steffanci, President, Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits. “We believe there is significant opportunity to grow Gray Whale as we move to national distribution. Marsh and Jan have created a delicious product with highly differentiated positioning and packaging that consumers love and we are excited about partnering with them to scale it”.

The story of Gray Whale Gin began when founders Marsh Mokhtari and Jan Livingston-Mokhtari witnessed firsthand a Gray Whale and its calf on their 12,000-mile annual migration to the north. This incredible journey inspired the concept of a gin with botanicals sourced along the California coastline on that same migration path. These botanicals – juniper, limes, fir, kombu sea kelp, mint and almonds – create a unique and refreshing taste profile.

Gray Whale contributes 1% of annual sales to “1% for the Planet” supporting OCEANA, a nonprofit working to protect and restore the world’s oceans.

“We’ve always been humbled by California’s stunning beauty and this is what ultimately inspired us to craft a gin that celebrated and supported everything we love about the Golden State,” said Jan Livingston-Mokhtari. Marsh Mokhtari added, “We talked with a lot of companies and were immediately impressed by Deutsch Family, they have a drive for excellence, professionalism, good partnership, and integrity that is just at an elevated level. We felt an immediate chemistry with the team and we believe they have the experience and commercial expertise to help make Gray Whale one of the top Super Premium Gins in the world.”

The Mokhtaris will be active full-time partners in building the brand. Marsh is a TV host, producer and distiller. He has hosted various TV shows including Perilous Journeys on National Geographic and Extreme Chef on the Food Network. Jan is an award-winning creative director and has led brand building campaigns for some of the largest brands in the world at top global advertising agencies and movie studios.

Gray Whale has won numerous awards, including the prestigious WSWA Brand Battle Winner of 2018. It retails for $40. Current production is approximately 2,000 9L cases. www.graywhalegin.com.

About Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits

Initially called W.J. Deutsch & Sons Ltd., the company was founded in 1981 by Chairman Bill Deutsch to market quality wines produced by prestigious families from major wine regions of the world. In 2009, it announced the expansion of the award-winning company to include a Spirits Portfolio. Today the company is renowned for its brand-building prowess and its ability to meet the needs of the modern consumer. Bill’s son Peter Deutsch is CEO; thus two generations of the Deutsch family work side by side in their continuous quest to build strong brands and relationships throughout the wine and spirits industry.

The portfolio includes award-winning wines from Australia: [ yellow tail ], [ yellow tail ] Bubbles, Peter Lehmann, Peter Lehmann Clancy’s; California: Bellacosa; Eppa SupraFruta Sangria, Girard Winery, Joseph Carr, Josh Cellars, Josh Cellars Reserve, Kunde Family Estate, Layer Cake; The Calling; France: Andre Lurton, Cave de Lugny, Fleurs de Prairie, Hob Nob Vineyards, Sauvion et Fils; Washington: Skyfall; Italy: Barone Fini, Villa Pozzi; New Zealand: The Crossings; Portugal: Quinta Do Vale Meao; Argentina: Clos de los Siete; Ruta 22; and award-winning spirits: Redemption Whiskey, Bib & Tucker Bourbon, Masterson’s Rye, Luksusowa Vodka and Gray Whale Gin. www.deutschfamily.com

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Josh Cellars Grand Central Pop Up

Forbes- Jeryl Brunner

When he was a little boy, Joseph Carr loved to sit in his father’s garage and listen to stories. His father, Joseph “aka Josh” was a lumber jack who would tinker away there. “People would come in and tell stories about their families and their lives,” shares Carr. “For my father, the garage was his American dream and he got to achieve that.”

When Carr founded his wine company with his wife, Deirdre Josephine Carr, they began operations in their garage. “Our desk was a picnic table and we shared a laptop computer. For two years, I sold the wine out of the back my truck” he recalls. “That was ten years ago and I thought I was going to stay in that garage the rest of my career.”

Last year, Josh Cellars, which sources wines from across several California wine growing regions, sold over two million cases. The wines are named after Carr’s father, who passed away before seeing his son’s wine business thrive. This Father’s Day Carr honored his father and all fathers by creating a special Father’s Day pop up in Grand Central Station. The pop up is decorated with items from both his and his father’s garages.

Grand Central also holds a special place in Carr’s life. Thirty years ago, when he was studying art in New York City, every Friday during rush hour he carved out time to stop by a bar to savor the action. “I would have a glass of wine and see the world come through this building and imagine all the stories,” he shares. “But I could never imagine this.”

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While U.S. Wine Sales Are Expected To Decline, One Brand Is Defying The Trend

Forbes- Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen

While much of the U.S. wine industry contends with lagging growth and competition from beer, spirits, and cannabis, one wine brand, Josh Cellars, continues to defy the trend and exhibit impressive gains year after year. Just ten years ago Josh Cellars founder Joe Carr was personally selling wine out of the back of his truck, but today the brand’s volume is responsible for Cabernet Sauvignon outpacing Chardonnay as the best-selling variety in the United States.

After working as a sommelier and wine industry executive, Joe Carr founded Joseph Carr Cellars in 2005, and then followed that up by establishing Josh Cellars in 2007. Carr named the brand for his father, a craftsman with a passion for details, creating Josh as the ultimate expression of gratitude, grounded in hard work, high standards, and recognition of others.

Josh Cellars has experienced explosive growth over the last several years, surging from 300,000 cases in 2014 to over two million in 2018. Josh Cellars hit the one million case mark in 2016, and it is on track to hit three million cases by the end of 2019, which is faster growth than any other major wine brand over ten dollars. According to Nielson, as of December 30, 2018, Josh was the top dollar sales growth brand in all of table wine, adding more new dollars to the total wine category than any brand in the industry for the third consecutive year. Nielsen results also show that as of December 2018, Josh was purchased by more households that buy wine in the $10 to $15 range than any other brand, surpassing prior industry leader Kendall-Jackson. In addition, Josh has the number one repeat purchase rate and is the only brand in wine that is significantly both recruiting new consumers and building loyalty with existing drinkers.

While Josh’s staggering success has many wine industry insiders scratching their heads, it makes a lot of sense when one takes into account recent research showing that wine lovers crave an authentic story and connection with the wines that they drink. Joe Carr and his partner, Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits, have a commitment to maintaining a connection with the consumers who drink Josh, as evidenced by a history of charitable endeavors.

A new initiative grounded in the Josh spirit of giving thanks is a partnership with Operation Gratitude, a charity that sends care packages and “Thank You” letters to active military service members, veterans, first responders, and military families. In addition to its lineup of regional and reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and other varieties, the brand has launched Josh Cellars Lodi Reserve “Military Salute” Cabernet Sauvignon. One dollar of every distinctive camouflage-labeled bottle sold will go to Operation Gratitude. Donations of $260,000 have already been made to the charity by Josh and Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits, and an additional $240,000 is expected to be raised through the sale of Josh Military Salute.

At a recent event celebrating the release of Josh Military Salute and the partnership with Operation Gratitude, we had the opportunity to speak with Joe Carr, founder of Josh Cellars, and Tom Steffanci, President of Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits, about Josh’s success and this new alliance.

Joe Carr, Founder, Josh Cellars

I always say the two most important words with Josh are “Joy” and “Love,” because at the heart of it that is what it’s all about.”

World Wine Guys: Why do you think consumers connect so strongly with Josh?

Joe Carr: The main thing about the brand is the story behind it and the fact that it’s an authentic narrative. It is a brand that I named after my late father as a tribute to him. When you have a foundation like that and people take the time to look at it they know that it is real and that it’s done out of love. I always say the two most important words with Josh are “Joy” and “Love,” because at the heart of it that is what it’s all about. Yes, it starts with making great wine, but I think that’s the reason. We have customers who become very loyal, and I have this theory that in the disposable environment that we live in, especially with consumer goods, where you have this and then you move on to something else, Josh is a person—and people don’t move away from friends so easily. They consider Josh to be someone familiar to them, so why [would they] move away from him?

WWG: Do you have a family history of military service that strengthens your commitment to military charities such as Operation Gratitude?

JC: There is a very long history. My family came to America in the late 1600s and the Carrs and the Greens fought in the Revolutionary War. My great-grandfather fought in the Civil War, and then we had relatives who fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. My father was in the military for a couple of years, although he didn’t serve in combat. I am very proud to have that heritage, but the connection that I made was when I was 14 years old. My father had a friend who came back from Vietnam, and unfortunately Vietnam kind of followed him back and he wound up dying. One day members of the American Legion came to our house and they were sitting in the kitchen talking with my father, and they asked me to come in. I played the trumpet in the high school band, and they asked me if I would play taps for my father’s friend. That was a defining moment for me. I wound up playing taps for military funerals from the time I was 14 until I was 31, and the last time I played it was for my father. During that time I came into connection with a lot of military families whose relatives had made the greatest sacrifice, and I got to understand the gratitude on both sides. I have a very organic relationship to the military.

WWG: With all of the different types of charities that Josh and you personally could help to support, why do you think it is so important to support members of the military through Operation Gratitude?

JC: I don’t think that we as Americans really grasp what the military has and doesn’t have. With the Operation Gratitude initiative, money is going to a fund to send care packages and letters to servicemen and servicewomen in various countries. The USO used to do that, but now we have to supplement that sort of activity. I was just outside a military base in Norfolk, Virginia, doing a wine tasting, and when we mentioned Operation Gratitude to people, you should have seen their eyes light up. They would say things like, “I was in Afghanistan…” or “I was on a ship…” and “…I got a letter,” and it really meant a lot to them. That was a very significant moment for them. When you are in the dessert for months at a time and you get something like that it really means something, and I wanted to be a part of it.

WWG: What type of message do you think is important to convey to our service people when we write letters of gratitude?

JC: You know, I don’t think letters should be political in any way. I think a letter should talk about about who I am and how much I appreciate you and recognize what you are doing and that I don’t ever take what you are doing for granted, ever. The military is a big employer and a big culture, but for a lot of people the military goes unnoticed or is just taken for granted. You don’t hear about it until you need it. It’s a lot like first responders—you’re going along and you think everything is great and then there’s a problem and you realize they are there. I would send a letter showing pictures of my kids and what they are doing and let the service members know how much I appreciate the freedom my family has because of what they have done.

Tom Steffanci, President, Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits

The driver is that this is something that Joe is passionate about.”

World Wine Guys: How can the launch of Josh Military Salute help the brand to continue connecting with consumers?

Tom Steffanci: This initiative is less about helping the brand and is more about the brand helping others. We are blessed to have the hottest wine brand in America and this reserve tier which is doing great. This addition is a lot more about taking the opportunity to give back. I do think we will get a benefit from that for the brand, but the driver is that this is something that Joe is passionate about. Joe shared the story of playing taps at military funerals with me in a three-page letter, and I boiled it down into a one-minute script, which is how we made the commercial spot. It is a very honest telling of Joe’s story, and the proceeds are going to Operation Gratitude.

WWG: Is Josh Military Salute earmarked for particular outlets or certain areas of the country?

TS: We went national, and I think we are learning now that we may not have had enough wine to go national. We are fortunate in that the vineyards that we source the grapes from are part of our Cabernet Sauvignon program, so we really do have access to a bit more of that by “stealing” it from our Josh base program, so we will be able to make a little bit more. It will be seasonal, and we will certainly be out of this wine by Labor Day.

WWG: What does partnering with Operation Gratitude mean to Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits as a whole and to the Josh brand in particular?

TS: This is an opportunity for us to partner with an organization with which we have shared values. We are a family owned company, so our values as a family are important, and Josh and Joseph Carr have a set of values. With his dad having been in the military and teaching Joe respect for the military from a very young age, this is an opportunity to show that respect on a broader scale. We love what Operation Gratitude does; the notion that our military men and women will get a care package, and even more important than that, receive a letter where a stranger says, “Thanks for keeping us safe,” well, I don’t think you can ever do too much of something like that.

I also have to mention that Josh Cellars was born out of a son’s tribute to his dad. Joseph Carr founded it in honor of his father, Josh. The brand is really born out of gratitude. There is a natural evolution to not only show gratitude to the consumers who have made the brand so successful but also work with causes that are close to Joseph Carr’s heart and to things that mattered to his dad. This move to show gratitude to Operation Gratitude and to servicemen and women is such a natural evolution for a brand whose whole purpose of being is to pay tribute and show gratitude.

WWG: In addition to helping our service members, have you seen any additional value in terms of Operation Gratitude helping the larger circle of families?

TS: We have been involved in other military-based operations that do a lot for people, including the Gary Sinise Foundation and Operation Homefront, both of which help service members, veterans, and their families. Even the act of Operation Gratitude getting letters and care packages to servicemen and servicewomen, the impact does reverberate back to the family. Knowing that the person is appreciated affects their attitude and state of mind, and it reverberates back. And in addition to active duty service people, Operation Gratitude also sends care packages and letters to veterans and military families and children.

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