Constellation agrees Widmer deal

Constellation agrees Widmer deal

Constellation Brands is to sell its Widmer Winery in New York state to Hazlitt's 1852 Vineyards for an undisclosed fee.

Californina-based Constellation said today (1 April) that it is selling Naples-based Widmer to make way for a US$7.2m expansion at its Canandaigua facility, also in New York state.

Hazlitt plans to use Widmer to produce its core wine brands Red Cat, White Cat, Cabin Fever and Bramble Berry and expects to employ more than 21 people within two years.

The deal is expected to close in June.

Constellation announced in September last year that it would close the Widmer Winery in 2011 and donate the facility to Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).

Following talks with RIT and authorities in Ontario, on the future use of the winery, "an opportunity presented itself to keep Widmer as a functioning winery", said Constellation.

Both it and RIT agreed to the deal with Hazlitt's, which is co-owned by Doug Hazlitt and Leigh Hazlitt Triner.

"The Widmer Winery has had a longstanding presence in the Finger Lakes region," said Doug Hazlitt. "As consumer demand for our brands continues to grow, utilising the Widmer facility will allow us to further the national and international expansion of our most popular wines, particularly Red Cat.”

RIT intends to work directly with Hazlitt’s to create appropriate educational programming for the university’s technology programmes, sustainability efforts and its School of Hospitality and Service Management.

Constellation, meanwhile, intends to make a "significant donation" to RIT to further the university’s commitment to the community, education and the New York wine industry.