Wineries can be small, family-operated businesses.
They also can be big businesses. Very big.
We were reminded of this recently when Brown-Forman sold Fetzer Vineyards in Mendocino County, California, to Chilean wine producer Vina Concha y Toro.
The selling price: $238 million.
The transaction wasn’t about grape growing or winemaking. It was strictly about money.
In a press release, Brown-Forman noted that it had been exploring strategic alternatives for Fetzer since late last year.
“During the process,” the release said, “the company considered a range of alternatives, but ultimately concluded that selling the business was in the best interest of Brown-Forman shareholders.”
Fetzer was one of the early leaders of sustainable agriculture in California winemaking, but it has been out of the Fetzer family’s hands since 1992.
Vina Concha y Toro is Latin America’s leading wine producer and exports multiple brands to 135 countries worldwide. The company was founded in 1883.