US: Foster's Group acquires niche Napa operation
Beringer Blass made the acquisition through its Etude Wines operation. The 12-hectare site in the Carneros region of the Napa includes 3,720 sq m of French-style stone buildings, which are currently being re-developed into a winery, and a 4-hectare vineyard planted with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The RMS facility is expected to become operational as a winery no later than the fourth quarter of 2004. The deal is expected to be finalised in August.
Beringer Blass has made the acquisition of what is viewed as a premium, showcase facility to boost its presence in the expanding Pinot Noir market in the US. US retail sales figures indicate that sales of domestically-produced Pinot Noir increased by 10% in the 52 weeks to May.
"It is in a very good location on a key highway into the Napa region with a lot of traffic, so part of the benefit for us is to be able to increase cellar door sales," a company spokesman said. "We expect that to be a significant part of the growth of Etude going forward."
The Etude Wines operation is a premium-orientated business, acquired by Beringer Blass in September 2001, which mainly supplies restaurants. The Etude wines retail for between US$38 and US$70 a bottle.
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