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Constellation Snags Rising Pinot Brand Mark West From Purple Wine Co.

June 29, 2012

Constellation Brands has acquired Impact “Hot Brand” Mark West from Purple Wine Co. for an undisclosed sum. Focusing primarily on California Pinot Noir, Mark West depleted 570,000 nine-liter cases on an increase of 16.3% last year, according to Impact Databank. Purple Wine Co. owner and CEO Derek Benham recently told Shanken News Daily he expects the brand to reach 700,000 cases this year. The Mark West line includes a California Pinot Noir ($12), a Central Coast Chardonnay ($10), a Santa Lucia Pinot Noir ($19) and a Russian River Pinot Noir ($25). The transaction is expected to close in July.

Benham said today that Purple Wine “did not search out this opportunity,” but that Mark West has now reached a size where it will benefit from the scale, reach and resources Constellation’s 40-million-case strong U.S. wine portfolio offers. Constellation CEO Rob Sands said the deal fills a gap in Pinot Noir at the $10-$12 price point in the Constellation portfolio. This isn’t the first deal between Constellation and Benham, who co-founded Blackstone before selling it to Constellation for $144 million in 2001.

The divestiture leaves Purple Wine Co. with a range consisting of California brand Avalon ($10-$19), which depleted 205,000 cases in 2011 and is slated to reach 225,000 this year; Bex ($10), a small German Riesling brand that’s expected to reach around 25,000 cases this year; and California Zinfandel and Chardonnay label Four Vines, which Benham expects to grow around 25% to 170,000 cases in 2012.


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