Treasury Wine Estates has re-entered the flourishing low-calorie wine market in the United States, launching three slim wine brands endorsed by a celebrity nutritionist to target the estimated one in five Americans on a diet.
Sourcing grapes from its northern Californian vineyards to produce a wine that contains up to one-third fewer calories than standard wines, Treasury Wine Estate's new Skinny Vine label has reportedly sold 100,000 cases since its launch in January.
It is seeking to break into a multibillion-dollar market segment typically populated by women who enjoy a drink but are watching their weight.
The theme is also being explored by other divisions within the Treasury Wine Estates group - the former global wine arm of brewer Foster's.
Lindeman's Early Harvest range features a growing collection of reds, whites and sparkling wines that use grapes from south-eastern Australia to produce a wine that is 25 per cent lighter in alcohol and calories.
Early Harvest has been a hit in Australia since launching five years ago, appealing to an older demographic, men and women who enjoy wine but want to keep trim — and don't welcome a hangover the next day.
Treasury produced a low-calorie wine, a slim chardonnay called White Lie, in 2004 through its US winemaker Beringer. But the brand was pulled from the market due to disappointing sales.
Skinny Vine builds on the success of other low-calorie brands such as the Skinnygirl ready-to-drink range of cocktails, created in 2009 by TV reality show queen Bethenny Frankel and later sold to spirits company Beam Global for an estimated $US64 million.
These wines and cocktails play on market research showing that up to 80 per cent of women are dissatisfied about their physical appearance, that 20 per cent of Americans are on a diet or are actively counting their calories and the fact that the majority of alcohol purchased in the US is bought by females.
"We call these consumers 'calorie avoiders', aged 21 and up, female, and they are counting calories, probably currently dieting. Being attractive to the opposite sex is important to them and they try a lot of new diets," Treasury marketing vice-president Tom Smallhorn said.
He said the new Skinny Vine wines, a chardonnay, white zinfandel and moscato, ranged from 7 to 9 per cent alcohol content and 86 to 95 calories per glass. They have a retail price of $US7 to $US10 a bottle and the backing of Los Angeles nutritionist and author Christine Avanti, who has struck some fame with her books Skinny chicks eat real food and Skinny chicks don't eat salads.