Premium Tuscan producer Ruffino has just sold 40% of its shares to the Bonomi family, owners of the holding company Invest Industrial.

The deal was set up at the end of 2002, but has just been finalised. It involves selling 40% of Ruffino shares, for a total of €70m (US$75.35m), in the form of a closed investment trust to Invest Industrial, owned by Bonomi family. The majority of the shares remain in the hands of Folonari family, owners of Ruffino. All the estates remain under the management of Ruffino, while the Bonomi family will participate in the board of directors.

‘The friendship between the Folonari and the Bonomi family goes back a long way, so it is really a family decison,’ Ruffino spokeswoman Lena Petersen told decanter.com.

The Bonomis sold leading Sardinian producer Sella & Mosca a few years ago and have been looking to get back into the wine world.

Since 2000 when the Folonari family split up (Ambrogio and Giovanni breaking off to form Tenimenti Ambrogio e Giovanni Folonari), Ruffino has invested €50m (US$53.82m) in replanting two thirds of their vineyards and building three new cellars.

Ruffino has nine Tuscan estates and one Friuli estate – Borgo Conventi, acquired in 2001 – with a total of 600ha of vineyards.

Some of the investors in the Ruffino deal include the government of Singapore, and fashion empire Benetton.

‘Tenimenti Ruffino’s philosophy is not to become a major multinational, but to purchase small, top quality estates in Italy, like the ones they have in Montepulciano, Montalcino, Chianti Classico and Friuli, for the production of Santedame, Modus, Solatia and other premium wines. Right now they are looking to invest in other estates in Italy, such as in Puglia and abroad,’ Petersen said.

Written by Michele Shah20 February 2003