Posted on | September 10, 2012
Written by | Cara McIlwaine
Soleil Mimosa Breaks New Ground In Sparkling Wine.
The story of Soleil (formerly branded St. Clair) Mimosa is one of French ingenuity and American hard work. Winemaker Hervé Lescombes relocated from Burgundy, France to New Mexico in order to start a winery in 1981. Today, Southwest Wines, also called St. Clair Winery, is situated in Deming, New Mexico, which is part of the Mimbres Valley appellation. The winery is operated by Florent and Emmanuel Lescombes, Hervé’s sons, representing the sixth generation of winemakers.
In the mid-1980s, Hervé Lescombes created a pre-mixed Mimosa, blending his estate-grown Brut sparkling wine with freshly-squeezed orange juice, according to Robert Roeloffs, Southwest Wines marketing director. He explains that success of its Mimosa was as much attributable to the winery’s viticulture and winemaking heritage as it was to the freshly squeezed orange juice and consumer feedback. Mimosa quickly became a flagship for the fledgling St. Clair Winery, and it is just one of more than 60 wines currently produced by Southwest Wines.
Rolling Out Nationally
“Originally, the winery developed and sold its Mimosa from the perspective of a fine Champagne style sparkling wine,” says Roeloffs. “For this reason, the early packaging resembled other sparkling wines, with a wire hood cork and a formal label format. However, one drawback to this presentation was that our fresh orange juice would settle to the bottom of the bottle, creating an unusual sight for a sparkling wine.”
Fast forward to 2010. After two decades of Mimosa’s popularity in the Southwest, the winery had the notion to share its success with the consumers on a national platform. After consulting with a buyer of one of the largest U.S. wine retailers, the winery believed that if it enhanced the appearance of the product, Mimosa could become a national sensation. Around the same time, a competing retailer promised national shelf space for the product, but required cost-cutting measures that would have compromised the product’s integrity. At a crossroad, Southwest Wines decided to hold firm on product quality and freshness. The winery redesigned and repackaged Mimosa in preparation for the national stage.
Roeloffs says, “We doubled down on our Mimosa! We switched from a cork-based enclosure to a bottle cap to deliver more convenience to the consumer. Then, we utilized a fresh-looking sleeve that dressed the entire bottle head-to-toe, colorfully addressing the issue of settled orange juice. Within months of rolling out our new format, national retailers committed to the brand and took the distribution from just three states to 41 states, and sales increased 10 fold.” remarks Roeloffs. “This brand should exceed 60,000 cases sold in 2012.”
This year, “St. Clair Mimosa” was changed to Soleil Mimosa. “‘Soleil’ is the French translation for sun, and we feel that the imagery of the sun captures the essence of our Mimosa brand. It plays a key role in our vineyard as well as in the flavor of our orange juice,” says Roeloffs.
Soleil Mimosa (SRP $10.99) is low-alcohol. This RTD beverage blends premium white wine of 12% ABV with fresh orange juice, resulting in a product that is only 8% ABV. This translates to maximum refreshment and easy enjoyment. “To ensure its tasting enjoyment,” Roeloffs adds, “Don’t shake it! It’s effervescent. Gently rotate the bottle back and forth a few times to blend before opening.”
After 25 years of success with Soleil Mimosa, don’t be surprised if this brand’s story has more to tell. “New flavors of ‘sunshine in a bottle’ are coming,” says Roeloffs.