Constellation Sells Leasingham, Stonehaven – Divests of Australian, UK and South African Wines

Constellation Brands has sold the historic, 116-year-old Leasingham Winery in Australia’s Clare Valley to local winemaker, Tim Adams. Australian Wine Equities is taking over Stonehaven. Leasingham was purchased by The Hardy Wine Company in January 1988. Constellation bought Hardy in early 2003. Beginning in the 1990′s through 2006, Leasingham’s Clare Valley Shiraz’ received Wine Spectator rankings in the 90′s at least seventeen times, and in 1995 scored the Jimmy Watson Trophy for the Clare Valley Shiraz – the first Watson trophy won in the region.

Leasingham Winery, Clare Valley, Australia

Leasingham Winery, Clare Valley, Australia

Tim Adams got his job in 1975 through Mick Knappstein, the Leasingham winemaker. Today he plans to make a “new range of wine” for a local children’s charity, and make the winery headquarters for Tim Adams Contract Processing, a crushing operation serving small producers in Clare Valley. According to Decanter, the sale does not include Leasingham’s “branded wines,” made at Tintara Winery in McLaren Vale, and owned by Constellation.

Constellation retained the Leasingham brand. But its decision to abandon the winery deeply depressed the mood of the region. Leasingham had been the largest winery in the region since the 1890s. Its operations affected hundreds of families across the Clare Valley, especially those of independent grape growers.

At the time of Constellation’s decision, with winemaking assets already flooding the market and seemingly few buyers, locals feared the site, on the edge of Clare township, might be bulldozed for housing…

Last Friday at noon, Adams and Goldsack settled on the deal, becoming Leasingham’s first private owners since America’s H.J. Heinz acquired it from the Knappstein family in 1971.

Adams says the winery contains some of the best, most efficient winemaking equipment on the planet – enough to process up to 5,000 tonnes of grapes annually – equivalent to about 350 thousand dozen bottles. The winery has storage capacity of about 4.5 million litres. Source: Chris Shanahan – read more here.

Stonehaven Winery at Padthaway was closed in late 2008, while awaiting a buyer. Australian Wine Equities reportedly bought the facility for $7 million:

Stonehaven Winery

Stonehaven Winery

Constellation Wines president Troy Christensen said the Reynella-based company and Australian Wine Equities had reached a “very satisfactory agreement and were now working together to ensure an orderly handover of the winery and a small parcel of adjoining vineyards”.

Included in the sale are the 12,000 tonne capacity winery and 35.9ha of vineyards including merlot, verdelho, cabernet sauvignon and viognier varieties…

He said AWE represented families with “extensive background” in wine in Australia.

“We’ve got some wonderful families involved to bring this facility into line and establish as a regional service provider with plenty of capacity for us to grow the operation quite substantially,” Mr Hislop-Speers said….

AWE chief winemaker Grant Semmens said he had been very pleasantly surprised by the positive grower reaction to the reopening of the winery.

“We’ve had a really strong response as it’s a first class processing facility,” Mr Semmens said. Source: Daily Telegraph

Constellation has also divested it’s holdings of it’s other Australian portfolio, the U.K. and South African brands. Buyer CHAMP renamed Constellation Wines Accolade after the takeover.

The acquisition from Constellation Brands, which has been valued at AU$290m, includes brands such as Hardys, Banrock Station, Kumala and Echo Falls, and 50% of UK drinks wholesaler Matthew Clark.

Constellation Brands will continue to work with Accolade Wines in a distribution and supply capacity, having retained 20% of the business. Source: Drinks International

Accolade Wines is a private equity firm, undisclosed owners, and apparently fairly new to the industry. Among their portfolio is Geyser Peak Winery, and confusing (according to their website) (mentioned above) – Leasingham and Tintara.

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2 comments for “Constellation Sells Leasingham, Stonehaven – Divests of Australian, UK and South African Wines

  1. Clyde Dale
    February 27, 2013 at 7:33 am

    Constellation Brands (formerly Canandaigua Wine, aka Wild Irish Rose) expanded by leaps and bounds during the late 80′s and early 90′s. They bought up everything they could find including a rectifying business. They were larger than Gallo with brands like Almaden, Taylor Calif. Cellars and Inglenook plus an impressive portfolio of boutique California wines and some very nice imports. They grew to quick and could not manage all the business and have since sold off some great assets.

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