STORES TOAST SPRING WITH WINE PROMOTIONS

Retailers are toasting spring this year by coupling wine with items like cheese, olive oil and flowers.Last month, Publix Super Markets, Lakeland, Fla., and Winn-Dixie Stores, Jacksonville, Fla., began one such cross-merchandising program with Robert Mondavi wines. Both retailers will continue these promotions through the first week of next month.Meanwhile, Ralphs, Gelson's, Vons, Lucky, Albertson's,

Retailers are toasting spring this year by coupling wine with items like cheese, olive oil and flowers.

Last month, Publix Super Markets, Lakeland, Fla., and Winn-Dixie Stores, Jacksonville, Fla., began one such cross-merchandising program with Robert Mondavi wines. Both retailers will continue these promotions through the first week of next month.

Meanwhile, Ralphs, Gelson's, Vons, Lucky, Albertson's, Raley's, Safeway and Andronico's stores have been selling wines from Santa Rosa, Calif.-based Kendall-Jackson in a Mediterranean-themed event, cross merchandising them with such products as red peppers, olive oil and couscous.

Publix began cross merchandising the Mondavi wines in its stores at the end of February and will wind down its programs after the first week of May, according to D.J. Pena, corporate account manager for Tampa, Fla.-based Southern Wine & Spirits, Mondavi's distributor.

Mondavi, Oakville, Calif., is offering three popular promotions at Publix this spring, said Mark Bailey, Florida regional chain sales manager.

Under one, for instance, a purchase of the company's Woodbridge label wines, cross merchandised with the floral departments, gives customers 75 cents off the purchase of flowers or plants.

Another promotion cross merchandises Colavita olive oil and fresh Italian bread from Publix bakeries with Mondavi's Vichon Mediterranean wines. It features 55 cents off the olive oil.

The program also includes wine tastings in 50 stores.

The Publix promotions are doing "extremely well," according to Pena.

Like Publix, some Winn-Dixie stores in Tampa and Orlando cross merchandised the Woodbridge line with floral.

"Any couponing has to help wine sales," said Bob Morris, category manager for directs for Winn-Dixie in Tampa.

The Kendall-Jackson promotions, which wound down about a week ago, included a "Create a Mediterranean Menu," which featured dishes such as veal scallopini with chardonnay butter sauce and sweet pepper-olive relish.

Doug Chase, specialty food buyer for Andronico's, Albany, Calif., used an extra ad page to promote the Kendall-Jackson program, which ran for a week at the end of last month.

"Our next promotion begins April 23 and will run a week. It's a Greek theme. We'll promote a Greek wine, with leg of lamb and a brand new line of Greek condiments from Gaea," Chase noted.

Chase plans to run another promotion in June, with Sonoma wines and Sonoma County.

Other chains are also taking advantage of cross-merchandising programs. Big Bear, for instance, sold between 65 and 70 cases of Mondavi wine during an autumn wine and cheese promotion, according to Dick Troutman, buyer and merchandiser for the chain's Columbus, Ohio and West Virginia stores. As a result, the stores planned a similar spring promotion for this month, this time with Domain St. George.

The promotion will also include a contest, in which customers who buy a bottle of wine can take a chance to win a $25 cheese plate.