Breakthru Beverage Launches in 19 Markets


Breakthru Beverage Group, which was formed after two prominent multi-state wholesalers — Wirtz Beverage Group and Charmer Sunbelt Group — merged in October, has officially launched in 19 markets across the U.S. and Canada.

The combined companies will represent a portfolio of wine, beer and spirits brands totaling more than $6 billion in annual sales, according to a statement from the group.

“Breakthru Beverage is built upon the best of our legacy operations while setting a new path and approach forward,” Greg Baird, the company’s president & CEO said in a statement. “Our vision for the future is focused on excellence and how we can be a stronger and more innovative partner for our suppliers and customers in all of our markets.”

First announced last October, the new venture will be lead by Rocky Wirtz, who served as president of Wirtz beverage, and Cherles Merinoff, who most recently acted as Charmer Sunbelt’s CEO. The pair will now serve as co-chairmen of the board. Danny Wirtz will serve as vice president while former Charmer Sunbelt president, Greg Baird, will serve as president & CEO and be responsible for the day-to-day operations.

“The name Breakthru was chosen very deliberately,” Danny Wirtz said in the statement. “We truly believe we can challenge the boundaries of the traditional distributor and bring a focused and insightful approach to how we do business.”

The Breakthru Beverage brand replaces legacy house names in markets including Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin and Washington D.C.  Nevada will transition to the Breakthru brand in the ensuing weeks as the state licensing process concludes.  Wirtz Beverage Canada and Alliance Beverage in Alabama, Arizona and Mississippi will maintain their names.

Though it primarily deals in the wine and spirits sectors, Breakthru Beverage does sell beer in places like Illinois, Nevada, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Colorado.

In recent years, Wirtz Beverage established partnerships with some craft’s fastest-growing players, including Deschutes Brewery, Ballast Point and Oskar Blues.

“The pace at which we are moving should indicate the level of commitment and excitement we have about Breakthru,” Baird said in the release. “Not only is our integration work well underway, but early indications are that our local markets teams delivered excellent results during the critically important holiday selling period.”