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Fetzer sale ‘possible’

US drinks giant Brown-Forman may sell its Fetzer wine brand, vineyards and winery as the company launches a wholesale review of the business.

The Kentucky-based company announced the review after widespread press speculation that a sale of its wine interests was imminent.

However, it emphasised that it would maintain its other California wine interests: the super-premium Sonoma-Cutrer brand and its agency relationship with Korbel sparkling wines.

Brown-Forman said it was ‘exploring strategic alternatives’ for the Hopland-based Fetzer business, which could include a possible sale of all of its facilities, vineyards and ancillary brands.

‘We are still amidst the review process,’ said Brown-Forman CEO Paul Varga. ‘But given the recent media stories, we felt it was important to communicate with our employees and external stakeholders to set the record straight.’

Decanter.com understands that the review may not be complete until the middle of 2011, and that it was prompted by long-term concerns about the performance and profitability of the Fetzer business.

The review comes after the US company sold its ‘peripheral’ Italian wine brands Bolla and Fontana Candida to Gruppo Italiano Vini (GIV) in December 2008. GIV had already produced the wines for Brown-Forman for some time.

Written by Richard Woodard

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