Exclusive news and research on the wine, spirits and beer business

News Briefs for August 3, 2012

August 3, 2012

•Charles Smith, already one of Washington state’s leaders with Syrah, is taking aim at Chardonnay with a new winery project, reports Wine Spectator. Smith, a former rock band manager, bought the former Whitman Cellars facility in Walla Walla earlier this year. He plans to use the 20,000-case winery exclusively for Chardonnay. And he has hired one of the state’s most promising winemakers, Brennan Leighton, formerly of Efeste, for the new project and his other top wines, including those from his K Vintners and Charles Smith: The Modernist Project brands.

•Sonoma-based contract wine producer Crushpad—which has been facing insolvency rumors since June—is said to be auctioning off its assets next week. According to local reports, the company is bankrupt and has been turned over to Sherwood Partners, a corporate restructuring firm in Mountain View, California. In addition to secured lenders, grape growers and barrel and packaging suppliers, Crushpad’s creditors include clients that have already put wine in barrels and paid for the upcoming vintage. Neither Crushpad nor Sherwood Partners returned requests for comment on the auction. Founded in 2004, Crushpad offers winemaking services to individuals, small-scale professional winemakers, wine retailers and restaurateurs. One of the company’s principal shareholders is Bill Foley of Foley Family Wines, who invested $3 million in the business last year.

•Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits has appointed Peter Szemenyei as chief financial officer. Szemenyei began his career at Seagram, where he spent 19 years, and then 10 years at Pernod Ricard USA. He served in a variety of senior level financial roles including CFO of the Pernod Ricard U.S. business.

•New Zealand’s Broken Shed vodka is making its U.S. debut this summer beginning with New York, California and Connecticut. The super-premium brand ($32.99 a bottle) is distilled four times from New Zealand whey and is being imported by MHW Ltd. Based in Wanaka, a small lake town in New Zealand’s Southern Alps, Broken Shed was launched in its domestic market by co-founders Mark Simmonds and Mark O’Brien in 2010.

•Heineken is set to pay $4.1 billion to increase its stake in Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) from 42% to 82%, buying out its former partner in the business, Singapore-based conglomerate Fraser & Neave. The deal will trigger a mandatory offer from Heineken for the remainder of APB, valued at around $1.9 billion. Singapore-listed APB markets the Tiger and Bintang beer brands and operates 30 breweries across Asia, with a presence in countries including Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.


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