Beverage distribution behemoth Ben E. Keith is branching out with another vino offering. And unlike the distributor's inaugural label, Solemar, it's not one they make themselves.
The family-owned Chateau Diana, located in the Dry Creek Valley region of California, offers three brands. First described in the press release is the "quick to market and value driven" Black Oak, which offers a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Merlot, a Chardonnay and a Riesling. The description of Black Oak also included the "affordable" and "everyday" tags, adjectives that used to be low-hanging grapes for pre-recession wine snobs looking for something to mock. About the only thing to poke fun at these days is that they produce the bubble gum rock of wines, white zin. Oh, and that some of us associate Black Oak with Arkansas. Also in Chateau Diana's portfolio are Le Baron Ranch's Russian River Valley Petite Syrah and "Hop Station" Chardonnay, and 1221's Cabernet Cuvee and Fleur de Lys.
This should make an interesting test case for both Ben E. Keith and the winery. Chateau president Corey Manning all but admits as much in press statements, saying, "traditionally, most wine brands are sold through Wine & Spirit Distributors, but today's reality is much different than the past and requires companies to now rethink and change their business models."
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Hopefully he's not talking about following the--what's the word?--Thunderbird model.