Rather big news....Duckhorn acquires Sonoma Cutrer, and seemingly partners with Brown Forman?

Such a good deal for BF, they rid themselves of a wine entity as a spirits focused company, expect Korbel to be next, and they basically have Duckhorn be their agnlency paying them for the brand AND giving then 21.5% of the company.

Sonoma Cutrer does a ton of business with RRR, their on-premise pack, while Sonoma Coast goes to retail, so it gives Duckhorn another entry into on-premise as a heavy off-premise brand with Decoy leading their charge.

1 Like

One of the most jarring things I ever heard at a tasting was when we were doing a barrel tasting at Sonoma Cutrer. We were tasting a pinot noir and the winemaker said, This is from the Owsley vineyard…I was afraid maybe they had used LSD to acidify the wine, but then I remembered that Stanley Owsley was part of the Brown Forman group and that the vineyard was probably named after a whisky drinking member of the family.

B-F dropped $60 million on California Cooler and Gallo ate their lunch with Bartles and James., Then they bought Fetzer and turned it into a supermarket brand, eventually purchased by Concho y Toro.

So maybe they think their future is in buying into Duckhorn, letting Duckhorn’s Pinot wineries make the Owsley Pinot. etc., and combining distribution strength. Of course, maybe Diageo thought the same thing when they bought the Chalone group.

As I recall, B-F distributed the wines from the Michel Picard group…is this still happening?

They have been divesting wine. By letting Duckhorn sell Sonoma Cutrer, they basically get an agency to pay them and a % of said company. Tidy business.

I do remember selling Michel Picard from BF in the 2000s. Funny. I also remember when Remy had Piper and Charles Heidsieck, Antinori, and Vietti.

Didn’t they also own Krug?
Now they just own Diam and Seguin Moreau

1 Like

Many big checks are being exchanged in these deals. B-F bought 80% of Sonoma Cutrer for $125 million in 1999 and jus sold it at something approximating a 2 billion dollar valuation. That’s good, even over 25 years. It is hard to remember that Sonoma Cutrer was considered a prestige chardonnay producer on the order of Kistler and Hanzel when it opened in the early 1980s. They were early adopters of single-vineyard designated chardonnays, as the Cutrer and Les Pierres bottling were quite pricey, and as someone who sold them for a while, not easy to move despite the prestige factor. They also had a world-class croquet field in front of the winery, which was an amazing patch of green. It seemed to me to be an unusual use of the property, though there were subsequently many articles about wine and croquet, so what do I know about PR? That said, Sonoma Cutrer did a lot to bring attention to the quality of Russian River chardonnay vineyards and likely raised the revenue of many growers through purchasing grapes for the Russian River Ranches bottling until they were able to buy and plant more acres of their own. It all seems more generic now than it did 40 years ago, but you could say that about a lot of wineries.

1 Like

Didn’t Bryce Jones start out by planting vineyards and selling grapes?? I thought that was a smart move. Frank Woods started Clos du Bois the same way.

I never thought the Cutrer wines were on the same level as KIstler and other of my faves. Perhaps that’s just a question of style.

On the other hand they were great at sales and marketing. The Chardonnay Symposium, wherein they invited famous names from Burgundy, California and beyond, was genius. I didn’t get the concept of the croquet thing until I saw everyone dressed in white enjoying a very upper class day.

The chilling tunnel was amazing and must have cost a fortune to build and to power. I always thought there were less expensive ways of achieving their goal, but the whole shebang must have impressed the crap out of visitors.

1 Like

Who owns the other 20% of Cutrer??
I bet they are enjoying Thanksgiving.