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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ascentia Wine Estates--That Was Bad Timing

Timing is everything in the business world.

A local group of wine industry veterans got together and bought some wineries "to keep ownership local," they said.  Except they started up just as the economy, and wine sales, tanked in 2008.

Their flagship was Geyser Peak Winery. An Australian wine company just bought their last California wineries--Geyser Peak, Atlas Peak and XYZin. Their Washington wineries, Covey Run and Columbia Winery, went to Gallo. (Columbia Winery is not the same as the well-known Columbia Crest Winery).

Ascentia went down the tube fast. In the past year they've sold other holdings--Gary Farrell Winery, Buena Vista and St. Chappelle (an Idaho winery). A couple years ago one of their investors sued them.  So it's no surprise Ascentia is gone.

Their "alumni" have a Facebook page    

Some of these wineries have gone through multiple owners. It seems Gary Farrell gets sold again every year. It must be tough to keep consistency in the brand with that going on. Geyser Peak is over 130 years old. In 1982 a local (rich) guy, Henry Trione, bought it then sold to Fortune Brands in 1998. Since then it's been owned by Constellation Brands, Ascentia, and now Accolade Wines, owners of about 40 other wineries. Accolade, of Australia, used to be owned by Constellation Brands. It's difficult keeping track!

Yes, it's a sign of the times, but it's not a sign the wine business is tanking. Others are still out there buying at what must be bargain rates. Those buying now may be the ones with good timing.