USA – Constellation Brands, a producer and marketer of beer, wine and spirits, has purchased a minority stake in Booker Vineyard for an undisclosed sum, in an agreement which it claims offers potential for majority ownership in the future. 

The deal will see Constellation invest in Booker Vineyard’s premium direct-to-consumer (DTC) focused portfolio of Paso Robles, California wines, reports FoodBev.

As part of the agreement, Constellation will also support Booker Vineyard in expanding the distribution for its wholesale, Cabernet Sauvignon-based My Favorite Neighbor and Harvey & Harriet wines, in the US.

The acquisition reportedly complements Constellation’s Tru Fine Wine portfolio, which includes Schrader Cellars, The Prisoner Wine Company and Ruffino Estates, among others.

“We are pleased to partner with Booker Vineyard as we continue to drive our vision to be a bold and innovative, high-end wine and spirits portfolio that delivers exceptional consumer experiences,” said Robert Hanson, president of wine and spirits at Constellation Brands.

“We look forward to working closely with the Booker Vineyard team to help them strategically expand their distribution and build their My Favorite Neighbor and Harvey & Harriet brands with consumers, while leveraging their unique expertise and capabilities to accelerate our leadership,” he added.

Founded in 2005, Booker Vineyard produces ‘luxury’ Rhône varieties priced from US$30 to US$165 per bottle, which are sold primarily through its DTC channel.

“With this partnership, we will reap the benefits of Constellation’s brand building and sales expertise, plus its leading network to help us grow our business in ways I can’t on my own,” Eric Jensen, Booker Vineyard’s founder and winemaker, said.

It comes a few weeks after Constellation announced that it is acquiring wine brand and DTC platform Empathy Wines and similarly aligns with the company’s “long-term aspirations to lead the category in DTC and 3-tier ecommerce” and strengthen its fine wine portfolio.

Empathy Wines focuses on producing high quality, sustainably made wines, sold direct-to-consumer through its eCommerce platform, powered by consumer insights and content-driven digital marketing.

Constellation is also in the process of negotiating a US$1.1 billion sale of a selection of its wine brands priced below US$11 a bottle to E&J Gallo. In a separate, but related, deal, it is also selling New Zealand wine brand Nobilo to E&J Gallo.

The New Zealand Overseas Investment Office has subsequently given its consent for the transaction to take place.

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