Bottled Sangria Finds Its Place

New entrants and rising consumer demand has led to off-premise success for sangria.

Sangria brands like Eppa, Reál and Yellow Tail are thriving at retail with a variety of packaging sizes.
Sangria brands like Eppa, Reál and Yellow Tail are thriving at retail with a variety of packaging sizes.

Sangria has rotated in and out of favor over the years, but the category has been riding high recently. The bottled sangria sector has ramped up, with leaders emerging amid a plethora of new brand introductions and a broad range of labels available in various styles and packaging sizes. Depletions for the top six bottled sangria brands—Reál ($6.99 a 750-ml. bottle), Lolailo ($5.99 a 750-ml. bottle), Madria ($4.99 a 750-ml. bottle), Yago ($9 a 1.5-liter bottle), Yellow Tail ($6.99 a 750-ml. bottle) and Eppa ($13.99 a 750-ml. bottle)—grew 7.6 percent to 2.33 million cases last year, building on the previous year’s 13.4-percent gain, according to Impact Databank. Sales for the top six have nearly doubled since 2010, when volume stood at 1.25 million cases.

“The category’s rise is fairly recent, and we’re starting to see some competition out there,” says Peter Deutsch, CEO of Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits. “People are waking up to the reality that this could be a strong growth category.” The company’s two sangria brands both pointed to this trend last year. Yellow Tail Sangria jumped 32 percent to 250,000 cases, and Eppa—the most premium brand among the top six—grew 10 percent to 110,000 cases last year.

Made in Spain, Shaw-Ross International Importers’ Reál was the No.-1 brand in 2015, up 4.5 percent to 585,000 cases. But its position is being challenged by Lolailo, another Spanish label that’s been an Impact “Hot Brand” for four straight years. Last year, Lolailo advanced 13 percent to 580,000 cases. Darren Restivo, principal at Lolailo importer Biagio Cru and Estate Wines, recently told Shanken News Daily that further advances are expected this year. “We foresee stronger growth as we add new accounts like Target and CVS,” he says. “We’re also expanding our footprint with large chains like Kroger and Walmart.” Meanwhile, No.-3 player Madria from E. & J. Gallo Winery advanced 1 percent to 505,000 cases in 2015, while fourth-ranked Yago from Luxco held steady at 300,000 cases.

Melissa Devore, vice president of wine buying for Total Wine & More, notes the sector’s vibrancy. “The number of entrants is enormous,” she says, noting that the average Total Wine location now has about 150 sangria SKUs. The demand is creating challenges. “Retailers and wine shops are struggling a bit with how to merchandise it,” she explains. Currently, Total Wine shelves sangria in the fruit wine section, rather than its own section. “We’re still trying to figure the best way to merchandise it,” Devore adds.

Price competition and discounting within the category are common, but the market is moving upscale. “While there’s been a recent influx of new entrants into the category, brands haven’t had to substantially increase promotions or take price on the shelf,” notes Stephanie Gallo, vice president of marketing at E. & J. Gallo Winery. “Demand has been growing, so brands haven’t had to depend on aggressive discounting. In fact, the average price per unit for the sangria segment has risen since 2013, with velocity and dollar sales growing steadily.”

Innovation is also in play, although it’s mostly focused on packaging. “There’s excitement about the innovation side of the category, which is helping drive sales,” Deutsch notes. “Sangria is available in a lot of formats and sizes for different occasions. We’re seeing large-format presentations, as well as sangria in cans.” Ricky Febres, national brand manager for Shaw-Ross, agrees that consumers are looking for convenient packaging, but says demand for flavor innovation hasn’t yet surfaced. The Reál brand offers various sizes, including a 1.5-liter bottle ($10.99) and a 3-liter box ($18.99).

Red sangria dominates at present, but most marketers are seeing strong growth with white sangria entrants. Further innovation could be in the works. “Eventually, once white sangria becomes established in the marketplace, we’ll see new flavors enter the market along with increased experimentation by consumers,” Deutsch says. “There’s a lot of positive energy surrounding the category.”