This advertising content was produced in collaboration with our partner, Silk & Spice.
Six years ago, Portuguese producer Sogrape launched a wine in the United States that set the pace in the red blend category. Showcasing the incredible potential of indigenous Portuguese varieties to North American wine drinkers, Silk & Spice Red Blend became one of the fastest growing red blend wines in the U.S. market.
With over 250 native grapes, Portugal has the benefit of diversity to help winemakers craft distinct yet accessible blends for an excellent value. When Silk & Spice debuted, Portuguese wines were already gaining traction, but with momentum in the blend category as well, the company was poised for a hit. “Red blends were one of the fastest growing and trendiest segments in the U.S. market and we believed we had the winemaking expertise, an amazing brand, and a great story to tell,” says April Gordon, the VP of marketing for Evaton (the U.S. subsidiary of Sogrape).
When Silk & Spice first launched, the brand sold 5,000 nine-liter cases. Its compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2016 to 2022 was 70 percent, seeing its best year in 2019 when volume grew 93 percent. In 2022, the brand surpassed a whopping 100,000 nine-liter cases sold in the U.S. alone.
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And now, with access to high-quality fruit and a cellar rich in talent, Sogrape has transformed that singular Red Blend into a thriving portfolio, building on the brand’s success to launch three new wines: Silk & Spice White Blend, Silk & Spice Silk Route, and Silk & Spice Spice Road.
A Red Blend That Offers a Sense of Adventure
Inspiration for Silk & Spice stems from the 15th-century Portuguese explorers who “helped to introduce new flavors to the world,” says Gordon. On the label a vintage map pays tribute to the voyages of these sailors, representing that whether it’s smooth sailing or a wine tasting adventure, Silk & Spice wines will complement your journey. As for style, the winemaking team sought to appeal to North American consumers looking for easy-drinking reds, while showcasing the spices and flavors discovered along the original trade passages; bursting with flavor, Silk & Spice wines are great for seasoned wine experts and novices alike, pairing well with tomato-based dishes like pizza, meatballs, lasagna, and chili.
Gordon attributes the rapid growth of Silk & Spice Red Blend to a few factors. “Each bottle of Silk & Spice has a story to tell—you can see it on our vibrant labels, and taste it in every glass,” she says, “and with its competitive price point, great taste profile, and yearly accolades, Silk & Spice has become a hit with consumers looking for a flavorful wine they can enjoy any time, any place.”
Insights on the ground support this idea of the brand’s success. Jessica Salvano-Quam, a wine consultant at Harding’s Market in Portage, Michigan, first stocked Silk & Spice Red Blend in February of 2022. “I’ve always been a fan of Portuguese wines, so I was eager to try Silk & Spice. The jammy yet dry profile is appealing to my customer base and has always driven liquid to lips, but high ratings helped boost sales,” she says. “My customers take my word for it, but knowing the wine is highly rated and highly awarded, especially for the price point, makes it even more appealing.”
According to Gordon, Sogrape knew early on that for it to succeed, Silk & Spice needed to avoid being pigeonholed in the Portuguese sections of stores. Rather, they sought placement at the front and center of Red Blend sections, using floor displays to promote the brand. “We invested a lot of time and effort building relationships with new accounts to teach them about the wine, about the Portuguese expertise in blending, and the history of explorations depicted on the label,” she says.
An Expanding Portfolio of Blends
To capitalize on the success of Silk & Spice Red Blend, Sogrape unveiled an extension of the Silk & Spice concept to include a white blend and two additional reds, all with the same qualities of the original. When crafting these wines for the collection, Sogrape ensured each new wine had a place in the portfolio while remaining independent enough from the original Red Blend to stand out on its own.
Silk & Spice White Blend reflects the silkiness and spiciness of the Red Blend but with a refreshing style for consumers seeking a lighter white wine option. Positioned as a companion to the Red Blend, the White Blend offers aromas of ripe peach, melon, and white flowers, balanced with notes of sweet spices and vanilla; just like its counterpart, the White Blend is easy to drink and befitting any occasion.
The smoothest Red Blend in the portfolio, Silk & Spice Silk Route underwent a gentle maceration to preserve its fruit forward notes and freshness. With hints of red fruits, white chocolate, and light vanilla on the nose, the wine style is smooth, silky, and easy to drink. The stunning label pays homage to the art and science of cartography during the Age of Exploration, and Bombyx Mori, the domesticated silk moth responsible for the famous silk road and the global silk trade.
The boldest wine in the portfolio, Silk & Spice Spice Road is made from a selection of grapes that deliver a full-bodied wine with notes of black pepper and dark chocolate. On the label, a compass tells the story of voyages taken on the Portuguese caravels to faraway lands and highlights the spices discovered and shared with the world. These wines are the perfect companions for any gastronomic experience or adventure.
Salvano-Quam now carries the entire lineup, observing consistent sales on all four SKUs. “The Silk & Spice portfolio boasts some really easy-to-drink, flavorful wines that are versatile in style but pair well with so many foods,” she says. As a higher-income neighborhood store, Salvano-Quam sells wine at a more premium price point. “Right now, my average bottle price through the register is $16.25, and I think Silk & Spice does so well because it remains an incredible wine for the price,” she says. But the flavor helps too, and Red Blend remains a favorite of staff and customers alike. “It’s a star,” she says. “Silk & Spice is the number one selling wine in the history of my store.”
Salvano-Quam’s consistent sales figures are reflected nationwide, too. Gordon reports the new SKUs already have 50 percent of the original Red Blend distribution since March, and “incredible floor visibility,” she says. “By expanding the family at this time, we have had phenomenal support … The family is cohesive and tells a wonderful story of Portugal, the wines, and their history of discovery.”
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