Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A 'wine' for the non-drinker

If you begin seeing something called Cheerwine showing up in the soft drink aisle of your favorite store, don't be surprised.

That's the name of a non-alcoholic drink manufactured in North Carolina, where it has been a local favorite for 90 years.

The Carolina Beverage and Cheerwine Bottling Co., founded in 1917 by the grandfather of current CEO Cliff Ritchie, now is available in 17 states and is selling more than a million cans a year, but the majority of sales are in North Carolina.

Nevertheless, the company continues to look for a larger profile despite the major brands' dominance in the distribution portion of the business, and has just added California to its network.

The company, which has an interesting and irreverent Web site, explains its product this way:

"Did you ever wonder how our delicious 'cherry different' Cheerwine is made? We bet you think it’s a highly automated process, all done by machine and never touched by a human hand! Truth be told, Cheerwine is hand made in small batches everyday, using a secret formula passed down by generations of Cheerwine makers. We still use the original recipe and as you can imagine that recipe remains a guarded secret. Even today Cheerwine is still crafted by a 'Cheer-maker,' a key person responsible for upholding the tradition since 1917.

"So now when you think of Cheerwine, think hand-crafted, think made in small batches, think of the craftsmanship passed down by generations of Cheerwine makers and above all think care and quality. It’s all part of our commitment to 'Protecting Your Right to Drink Cheerwine'."

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