Constellation Brands sheds more of its winery portfolio

The Victor, N.Y., company that owns Napa’s Robert Mondavi and Healdsburg’s Simi on Thursday sold the various brands to The Wine Group of Livermore, which owns the Benzinger Family Winery in Glen Ellen.|

Constellation Brands Inc. has sold more of its portfolio as the nation’s fifth-largest wine company downsizes to focus on the premium market.

The Victor, New York, company that owns Napa’s Robert Mondavi Winery and Healdsburg’s Simi Winery on Thursday sold various brands to The Wine Group of Livermore, which owns the Benzinger Family Winery in Glen Ellen.

The labels included in the deal were Cooper & Thief, Crafters Union, The Dreaming Tree, Monkey Bay, 7 Moons and Charles Smith Wines. Zepponi & Co. of Santa Rosa served as an adviser to Constellation Brands on the sale.

In January 2021, Constellation Brands sold to E. & J. Gallo Winery a portfolio of more than 30 lower-priced brands for $810 million to pare down its operations.

Constellation also reported its earnings Thursday and noted net sales at its wine and spirits business grew 1% for the past quarter compared to same period a year ago.

The company also said it expects its wine and spirits business should have net sales from net-zero growth to a 2% decline for the current fiscal year.

Napa Valley winery files for bankruptcy

Spring Mountain Vineyard in St. Helena filed for bankruptcy last month as the winery that suffered damages in the 2020 Glass Fire claimed debts from $100 million to $500 million, according to court records.

The winery controlled by Jaqui Safra, who also owns Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., has 850 acres of property and employs 70 workers. It is best known for serving as the backdrop for the “Falcon Crest” TV series that ran 1981-1990 on CBS.

Court documents show the winery has been unable to come to agreement with its lender MMG, which provided Spring Mountain a $185 million loan in October 2018.

In subsequent years, the two parties have had to amend the loan and also enter into a forbearance agreement. They had ultimately agreed to retain a broker to sell the property by a certain date, according to a court filing in the bankruptcy case.

Safra contends in the bankruptcy filings that his company has paid $103.6 million of the loan, but because of a current interest rate of 16%, MMG is now owed about $205 million.

The winery also is engaged in another federal suit with its insurer Mt. Hawley Insurance Co. over a $10 million insurance policy from claims from the Glass Fire. Spring Mountain said it had suffered more than $35 million in damages as a result of the blaze, according to a court filing in that separate case.

Healdsburg winery adds new team members

Flambeaux Wine in Healdsburg has added two new members to its team at the family-owned winery.

Sarah Kelley has been named as the direct-to-consumer sales and marketing administrator after having worked for more than two decades at such local wineries as Flanagan Wines and Dutton-Goldfield.

Mike Mahoney has assumed the director of hospitality position after working for various hotels and resorts before entering the wine industry at Williamson Wines and Dutton Estate Winery, both located in Sonoma County.

Compiled by Bill Swindell. Submit items to bill.swindell@pressdemocrat.com.

Bill Swindell

Business, Beer and Wine, The Press Democrat  

In the North Coast, we are surrounded by hundreds of wineries along with some of the best breweries, cidermakers and distillers. These industries produce an abundance of drinks as well as good stories – and those are what I’m interested in writing. I also keep my eye on our growing cannabis industry and other agricultural crops, which have provided the backbone for our food-and-wine culture for generations.

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