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Constellation Brands to buy ‘luxury’ California wine labels

Constellation Brands is set to acquire five fast-growing luxury wine labels, operating under The Prisoner Wine Company banner, for an estimated US$285m.

Constellation Brands will acquire brands including The Prisoner, Saldo, Cuttings, Blindfold and Thorn, all based in California, from fine wine company Huneeus Vintners, with the deal expected to close by the end of April.

Constellation said The Prisoner, which was launched in 2003, was now the top-selling ‘super-luxury red blend’ in the US, thanks to strong growth over the past three years.

A blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Charbono (aka Bonarda), it is said to have been inspired by the ‘mixed blacks’ wines originally made by Italian immigrants in the Napa Valley.

Meanwhile, Saldo is described as the number two super-luxury Zinfandel, and Blindfold the top-selling super-luxury white blend.

The five brands sold a combined 175,000 cases of wine in 2015, with volumes growing at an annual rate of 30% over the past three years.

‘More than ever, consumers are seeking high-quality, distinctive wines, and the portfolio we are acquiring from The Prisoner Wine Company delivers,’ said Bill Newlands, president of Constellation’s wine and spirits division.

Constellation president and CEO Rob Sands added: ‘This acquisition aligns with our portfolio premiumisation strategy, enables us to capitalise on US market trends that favour high-end wine brands and strengthens our position in the dynamic and margin-enhancing super-luxury wine category.’

The deal comes after Constellation paid $315m for fast-growing California Pinot Noir brand Meiomi in August last year.

Meanwhile, Constellation said it was considering plans to float its Canadian wine business, including Inniskillin and Jackson-Triggs, via an IPO, thanks to its recent strong performance.

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