Excess fruit a boon to vintner expanding distribution
Keel Farms has secured distribution of its Keel & Curley wines to every Publix supermarket in the state of Florida. This positive development comes during a particularly challenging time for fruit farmers in the state. The pandemic hit while blueberries were being harvested.
Grocery stores and wholesalers decreased their fruit orders and stocked up on meat, dairy, eggs, and paper goods. Consumer demand for fresh fruit fell and prices fell 50% for wholesale blueberry growers.
The impact of the pandemic resulted in excess blueberries going into the freezer and juice markets. At the same time, consumers were purchasing record amounts of Florida-made wine. Sales of Keel & Curley wines have increased 85% compared to last year. With more people drinking wine, Keel & Curley helped both farmers and distributors offset their loses by buying excess blueberries to meet demand.
“Being able to turn a negative into a positive has been a silver lining for us,” says Clay Keel, president of Keel Farms Group. “We plan to build on this momentum, and we expect to see sales continue to increase as our brand gains notoriety with new customers in new markets across Florida.”
Keel & Curley Winery produces four types of blueberry wines, each with a distinct taste: Gulf Coast, Dry, Semi-Dry and Sweet. All are made from 100% blueberries.
Keel & Curley’s Fusion wines are a blend of grape wine and fruit juice; for example, Merlot or Chardonnay blended with real strawberry or peach elements. Keel & Curley Winery produces seven fusion wines.