Brown-Forman looking to offload Fetzer

24 December, 2010

Brown-Forman, the major US drinks company, has announced a strategic review with a view to offloading its Californina-based wine assets.

The Louisville-based company that also owns Jack Daniel’s, Southern Comfort, Finlandia vodka, Tequila Herradura and Woodford Reserve bourbon, announced that it is “exploring strategic alternatives for its Hopland California-based wine assets including a possible sale”.

The assets include the Fetzer brand, its winery, bottling facility and vineyards. Plus other Hopland California-based brands.

It does not include the super premium Sonoma-Cutrer brand or the company’s long-term agency relationship with Korbel Californian sparkling wines.

The announcement follows Constellation Brands' announcement that it has sold off its Australian, UK and South African wine interests to an Australian equity firm. With Foster's spliting its wine business from its core brewing business with a view to floating them off and Pernod Ricard selling off some of its New Zealand wine assets, it looks like the big corporate drinks giants are falling out of love with wine, particularly mainstream wine brands.

The spate of divestments appears to be good news for still family-owned and manged E&J Gallo, which will once again be able to claim to be the world's number one wine producer.

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Nick Strangeway

Bar food's blurred lines

Once upon a time pubs and bars were somewhere you went with the sole purpose of getting pissed and there wasn’t a knife and fork in sight, just a packet of dry roasted nuts.