Low-calorie cocktail brand Skinnygirl, brainchild of entrepreneur and reality TV star Bethenny Frankel (above), is to expand the brand into wine next month. As reported on thedrinksbusiness.com, Skinnygirl will launch three low-calorie California wines – a Syrah blend, a Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio blend and a Grenache/Syrah rosé blend, priced at US$15 each. Each of the wines will weigh in at 12% alcohol and 100 calories per 5-ounce serving.
Frankel made her TV debut in American reality show Real Housewives of New York City, and went on to launch a reality spin-off series on Bravo, three books and a career focused on healthy living. Skinnygirl is one of the biggest US drinks industry success stories of 2011. It became one of the fastest-growing brands in the spirits industry on the strength of its flagship low-calorie ready-to-drink margarita, introduced in 2009.
The Skinnygirl margarita sold 90,000 cases in 2010, according to Impact Databank, leading to Beam Global Spirits & Wine Inc.'s purchase of the brand in March 2011. Frankel, who remains the face of the brand following the sale, was influential in determining the final blends and flavour profiles of the new line of wines.
"I wanted Skinnygirl to taste approachable, not too dry and not too sweet, a very drinkable blend," she said, adding, "I'm not a wine snob – I've found great wines at Trader Joe's. I didn't want this brand to try to be something it's not.” The wines are made by the California-based Winery Exchange under the direction of winemaker Kurt Lorenzi, who worked closely with both Frankel and Beam to create the blends.
“Looking at wine categories that fit the Skinnygirl consumer – health-conscious women in their ‘30s, we settled on blends. It’s important that we set the blend style in the first vintage," said Lorenzi. The grapes for Skinnygirl come from all over California to facilitate creating a style that can be reproduced year after year regardless of vintage variations. The initial run will be around 200,000 cases.