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Jackson Family Wines remains in “growth mode” with Italy, its primary target for acquisitions, according to the California-based group’s president.

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In an exclusive interview with just-drinks, Rick Tigner said the privately-owned company expects to make more acquisitions this year and is “very strong financially”. The firm acquired a number of estates last year, including its first US property outside of California, in Oregon.

Asked why the company, most famous for its Kendall-Jackson brand in the US, has been on a spending spree of late, he said: “Interest rates are also at all-time low. We’re in growth mode.”

Tigner admitted that the company will focus on improving its newly-acquired assets, but that M&A plans are still on the table in 2014. Italy, where the group already owns the 2,000-acre Tenuta di Arceno estate, is its primary target. “We already have a winery there, but if there were some quality estates on the market, that would catch our interest,” he told just-drinks.

In the US, Tigner said his company would also be interested in any assets that Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) may look to sell, in the wake of the Australian firm’s US$145m writedown. He said TWE has “some incredible assets ... but I have no idea what they are doing.” 

On TWE’s troubles, Tigner, who has been JFW president for the past four years, said: “How they’ve been marketing those brands (in the US) is some kind of a mystery to me.” 

Turning to Brazil, Tigner said he is “bullish” on the opportunity there, as per-capita consumption is still low. But, he said the US needs “better trade relationships” with emerging markets, to bring down high levels of taxation on wine. 

Jackson Family Wines was established as Kendall-Jackson in 1974. Its founder Jess Jackson died in 2011, but his wife Barbara Banke remains the company's chairperson.

To read the full interview, click here.


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