Constellation Brands invest in Kerr Cellars’ winery as part of its US$100m women targeted initiative

USA – Constellation Brands, a beverage alcohol Constcompany, has announced that it has acquired a minority stake in Kerr Cellars’ super-luxury portfolio of Napa Valley and Sonoma County, California wines.

Constellation made the investment as part of its Focus on Female Founders programme, a US$100 million initiative which it unveiled in 2018.

According to a statement by Constellation, Kerr Cellars will continue to be independently-owned and managed.

The business was founded in 2013 by US golfer Cristie Kerr in partnership with consultant winemaker Helen Keplinger.

“I have always believed that the key to success is surrounding yourself with the most talented people who can make you better, whether it’s in golf, philanthropy, or winemaking, which is why I am thrilled to collaborate with Constellation Brands, an industry leader in fine wine committed to building brands consumers love,” Kerr commented on the decision.

“We have a clearly defined vision of where we intend to take Kerr Cellars, and partnering with Constellation Brands provides access to resources and insights that will help us fulfill our commitment to consumers to bring them the highest quality wines from some of California’s finest vineyards.”

Kerr made her first venture into wine in 2006 through a collaboration with Pride Mountain Vineyard co-owner Suzanne Pride Bryan.

The result was Curvature Wines, a range of small-batch Napa Cabernet and Sonoma Chardonnay wines, with the proceeds donated to breast cancer charities.

Kerr subsequently founded eponymous label Kerr Cellars. The portfolio includes the UV Vineyard Chardonnay (US$65), Kerr Cellars Pinot Noir (US$65) and Cabernet dominant blend Reserve Red (US$195) as well as the  Kerr Cellars Beckstoffer Vineyard Georges III Cabernet (US$250).

“Cristie, Helen, and the Kerr Cellars team have created a winning collection of wines that have garnered incredible industry praise and strongly resonate with consumers,” said Jennifer Evans, vice president of Constellation Ventures, the investment arm of Constellation Brands.

“Cristie’s dedication to excellence, relentless focus on detail, and commitment to creating wines with remarkable character, depth, and finesse have positioned Kerr Cellars for growth within the super-luxury wine segment, filling a key white space within Constellation’s wine and spirits portfolio. We believe Kerr Cellars has significant runway for success and look forward to working closely with their team to strategically expand their resources and strengthen their position within fine wine.”

The deal in Kerr Cellars follows recent investments in Booker Vineyard, based in Paso Robles, and Gary Vaynerchuk’s direct to consumer company, Empathy Wines.

In a similar format to its Focus on Female Founders programme, Constellation unveiled Focus on Minority Founders in June this year, an initiative which will see the company invest US$100m in black and minority-owned drinks companies over the next decade.

Constellation’s Focus on Female Founders campaign pledged to invest at least US$100m in start-up drinks companies led by females by 2028.

The investment was made through Constellation Brands Ventures’ Focus on Female Founders program which makes meaningful investments in female-founded and female-led businesses doing disruptive and innovative work across beverage alcohol. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

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