Constellation Brands offloads Canadian wineries, buys Washington State brands

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Constellation Brands continued its aggressive deal-making on Monday by unloading its Canadian operations and buying a Washington state winery.

The Victor, N.Y. company, the third-largest wine company in the country, announced the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, the largest single-profession pension plan in Canada, has bought its Canadian operations for $784 million.

It included wine brands such as Jackson-Triggs and Inniskillin wineries, vineyards, offices and Wine Rack retail stores.

Constellation Brands locally owns Clos du Bois winery in Geyserville, Simi Winery in Healdsburg and Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa.

The publicly traded company at the same time announced it had bought the Charles Smith Wines collection of five premium wine brands for approximately $120 million. Charles Smith, of Walla Walla, Washington was formed in the late 1990s and is known for Jet City, the largest urban winery on the West Coast, in Seattle.

Given that it is a publicly traded company and under pressure from Wall Street to meet expected earnings, Constellation Brands has focused more on buying premium wine brands and expanding production rather than investing in vineyards.

“In April, we announced plans to explore an initial public offering for a portion of our Canadian wine business as part of our strategy to focus on premium, high-margin and high-growth brands. We seized the opportunity to sell the entire business in a value enhancing transaction when it presented itself,” said Rob Sands, president and chief executive officer of Constellation Brands, in a statement.

The buying spree started last year when it bought the Meiomi brand in July from Napa vintner Joe Wagner for $315 million.

It continued this year when it bought the Prisoner Wine Co. from Napa-based Huneeus Vintners for about $285 million.

The Prisoner brand has been a hit with consumers with a label based on an etching by the Spanish artist Francisco de Goya as it ranked high in a Nielsen study last year for having a “fun” design among bottles marked $20 or more.

You can reach Staff Writer Bill Swindell at 707-521-5223 or On Twitter @BillSwindell.

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