Canadian wine producer Andrew Peller has reported a 23% rise in net earnings for the first quarter to C$2.9m, on sales up 3.6% at $57.1m.

The company attributed the sales increases both to solid organic growth and the introduction of new products, while higher volumes of premium and ultra-premium brands helped to boost gross profit.

Gross profit as a percentage of sales improved to 42.8% in the first quarter from 41.4% in the same period last year, the company said.

As a result of the increased sales and improved gross margins, earnings before interest, taxes, amortisation, other income and unusual items (EBITA) increased by 9.2% to $7.4m, Peller reported.

"Our growth and increased profitability continued in the first quarter of the new year following record performance in fiscal 2007," said president and CEO John Peller. "Looking ahead, we expect this growth will continue as our proven value enhancing strategies and our leading portfolio of premium brands enable us to capitalise on the strong industry fundamentals present in all of our markets."