USA: Pine Ridge Winery, LLC Announces Retention of Credit Suisse First Boston to Sell California and Oregon Wineries
Pine Ridge Winery, LLC is owned by Leucadia Cellars, Ltd. and Gary and Nancy Andrus, the Company's original founders. Leucadia Cellars, Ltd. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Leucadia National Corporation (NYSE, PCX: LUK) a financial services holding company. Leucadia acquired its interest in the Company in 1991. Since origination, Pine Ridge Winery has grown from 4,000 cases a year to producing an estimated 85,000 cases in 2000. Archery Summit began producing wines in 1995, and is expected to produce 11,000 cases in 2000.
Pine Ridge is known for producing high quality, award winning, estate-produced wines, including Andrus Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, and several estate bottlings of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot varietal wines. Archery Summit, which also produces estate-bottled wines, is best known for its award winning and highly regarded pinot noir varietals.
Both wineries experienced record harvests in 2000 and Gary Andrus, Chief Executive Officer and executive winemaker of the Company, indicated that the fruit coming off the vine appears to be of very high quality. Andrus stated, "The crop came in with uniform ripening, great balances, and superb color and flavor characteristics. We believe that 2000 will prove to be another excellent and possibly classic vintage for our wines."
The sale of Pine Ridge Winery, LLC occurs at a time of significant consolidation and merger and acquisition activity in the California Wine Industry. Recent transactions include Foster's $1.5 billion acquisition of Beringer Wine Estates Holdings, the acquisition of R.H. Phillips winery by Vincor International, Inc. and The Wine Group's purchase of Turner Road Vintners, making it the second largest wine producer in the United States after Gallo. In the ultra premium and luxury categories, Arrowood was recently sold to the Robert Mondavi Winery, Matanzas Creek to an affiliate of Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates and Sonoma-Cutrer was sold to Brown-Forman. Chimney Rock Winery, which, like Pine Ridge Winery is located in the Stags Leap District of Napa, also recently sold to The Terlato Wine Group. The rapid growth in the ultra premium and luxury categories of over 15% per year has generated significant strategic and investor interest in wineries that produce high quality wines.
Consumer demand for high end wines, particularly red varietals, has accelerated in the last several years and is expected to continue to grow due, in part, to the well-publicized potential health benefits of moderate wine consumption and the aging of the population which has favored the consumption of high quality wines compared to other alcoholic beverages.
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