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November 14, 2022

O’Neill Vintners & Distillers buys US low-sugar peer FitVine Wine

Deal comes as O’Neill Vintners & Distillers seeks to target younger, health-conscious consumers.

By Conor Reynolds

US-based O’Neill Vintners & Distillers has acquired low-sugar wine producer FitVine Wine for an undisclosed sum.

O’Neill Vintners & Distillers said the deal added to its brands in the “growing super-premium wine segment” in the US.

FitVine Wine was founded by Tom Beaton and Mark Warren in 2015, who wanted, its new owner said, “to disrupt perceptions of wine not fitting into active consumer lifestyles”.

The company’s wines – which include Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir – have reduced sugar, tannins and sulphites, retailing at an average of US$16 to $20. The group also imports Prosecco from Italy.

In keeping with its “wellness” positioning, FitVine Wine partners with studios, sports and cross-fit events. It also sponsors the Pro Pickleball Association, a growing sport of 4.8 million players in the US.  

O’Neill Vintners & Distillers CEO Jeff O’Neill said: “Our focus for the last seven years has been to build a portfolio of great brands appealing to the modern wine drinker. We see a tremendous opportunity to continue to strengthen and expand FitVine nationally driven by our commercial team, distributors, and trade partners.”

In 2018, FitVine Wine secured investment from The Berks Group, the investment arm of US media group News-Press & Gazette Company, which backs companies in sectors including consumer goods.

“The O’Neill portfolio is a natural fit and evolution for FitVine, where the brand will accelerate its expansion and recruit more passionate consumers throughout the country,” said Eric Bradley, executive vice-president at the Berks Group, FitVine Wine’s majority owner.

Last year, O’Neill Vintners & Distillers purchased California-based Rabble Wines with the aim to grow its offering for younger wine drinkers.

Among other corporate moves within the Californian wine industry this month, wine group E&J Gallo acquired the Denner Vineyards Estate, a deal that included the Paso Robles-based brand and the vintner’s gravity-fed winery and 130 acres of vineyards.

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