Constellation Brands is going up against Diageo's Pimm's brand with the launch of a summer variant for Stone's Ginger Wine.

Stone's Summer Cup will be launched next month and, like Pimm's No 1 Gin Cup, it will be marketed as a long drink to mix with lemonade for the summer.

Claire Griffiths, VP, brands marketing for Constellation Europe, said: "Market research showed both current and new consumers liked it as a long summer drink."

Traditionally drunk as a warm winter drink, Stone's Original Green Ginger Wine is popular with consumers aged 44 upwards. "We developed the taste of Summer Cup to be lighter than Stone's Original so it is more of a mainstream taste, especially mixed with lemonade. This is more acceptable for a younger consumer who may not have found the strong ginger flavour as appealing," she said.

Unlike Stone's Original, the new 13.5% abv variant will not use the classic dark green label. Instead it has a modern-looking pale green and gold label with a clear glass 70cl bottle.

Summer Cup will initially be sold with a free one-litre bottle of lemonade at £4.99. "We are going into Pimm's territory by communicating that it should be mixed with lemonade," said Griffiths. "But our starting point was that we had a great product with Stone's and we have been investigating ways to attract consumers in the summer."

Griffiths said the recent emergence of Pimm's' Winter variant was not a major threat to Stone's Original and the summer variants would attract different consumers. "We think there is an opportunity to add more propositions to this category and more consumer choice."

Stone's Original holds 40.7% of the off-trade ginger wine market and is growing at 4% in terms of value [ACNielsen MAT February 2006]