Every year, at the end of harvest, Canandaigua Brands used to have tons and tons of pressed grapeskins and grapeseeds left over at its wineries. Now, the New York-based beverage giant is capitalizing on the touted health benefits of antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables to put these byproducts to good use.
The company used to encourage farmers to cart off the skins and seeds for free to use as fertilizer in their fields. But Canandaigua has since developed a way to extract the oil from grapeseeds, which are rich in polyphenols. These are a good source of antioxidants, which are reputed to help slow the effects of aging and protect against disorders such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Along with its subsidiary, Polyphenolics Inc., Canandaigua launched new health products containing grapeseed oil -- including nutritional supplements and an herbal fudge -- that it began selling online in February in its first e-commerce venture. Each recommended dose is equivalent to the antioxidants you would get from one 4-ounce glass of red wine.
Alongside its own brands, Canandaigua is selling other antioxidant soaps, beauty treatments, cooking oil, toothpaste and even dog biscuits. It plans to add more of its own grapeseed-oil products over the next two years.
To help market those products, Canandaigua developed a Web site called Anti-oxidant.com, which provides straightforward information on the health benefits of antioxidants of all kinds, not just those from grapes.
"By doing this, we think we can gain a much broader audience for grapes and all forms of grapes -- whether as a snack, in a supplement, grape juice or, more important to us, wine," said Howard Jacobson, president of Anti-oxidant.com.
The company enlisted the help of experts to contribute articles and answer questions submitted by readers. Contributors include medical doctors and researchers, as well as cookbook authors Mollie Katzen and Rozanne Gold, professional ski racer Pepi Neubauer and Andrew Waterhouse, associate professor of enology at the University of California at Davis.
The site also includes news reports on the latest medical research on antioxidants and other health issues, as well as links to other health-related Web sites.
Canandaigua Brands, which sold nearly $670 million of wine last year, owns a wide range of brands, including Simi Winery, Franciscan Oakville Estate, Arbor Mist fruit-flavored wines and Almaden boxed wines.
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