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Rob vlosky flew a Navy A-6 Intruder as a tactical jet aviator for six years. But only now, with his launch of what some are calling the biggest craze in the wine business in a decade, has he come to appreciate how high is up.

As category marketing director at Canandaigua Wine Co., Mr. Vlosky started product development with a clean slate and did an intensive round of product research. He discovered a real marketing need: Women wanted to have a beverage equivalent to what beer is for men.

"This doesn't happen very often; it's a once in a lifetime opportunity," says Mr. Vlosky of the discovery. Canandiagua launched Arbor Mist, a combination wine/fruit-flavored drink with names such as Peach Chardonnay. One million cases were shipped within 100 days. After one year on the market, 300 million cases are expected to be shipped. The strong demand created a new category, the "fruit with wine" category, though its unorthodox use of the varietal names on the labels is fermenting controversy among the wine cognessenti.

With promotions, such as one targeting the college crowd at spring break beaches, pushing the brand further, Mr. Vlosky, 44, is enjoying the view from his new heights.

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