Pernod Ricard is expanding its wine portfolio in France’s Côtes-de-Provence with the acquisition of the Aux Terres de Ravel estate.

Aux Terres de Ravel portfolio includes the “ultra-premium” brands Symphonie, Fantastique and Marguerite en Provence. The estate consists of 280 hectares of vineyards.

The deal, struck for an undisclosed sum, was made through local winery Sainte Marguerite en Provence, which has been majority-owned by Pernod Ricard since 2022.

Sainte Marguerite is a Provence-based winery that has been in existence since 1929 and secured ‘Cru Classé’ status in 1955 for Côtes-de-Provence rosé.

The winery’s former owners, the Fayard family, hold operational control, with Sainte Marguerite’s wines sitting alongside Pernod Ricard’s Mumm and Perrier-Jouet Champagne brands in the French giant’s portfolio. 

As part of the deal, 20 hectares will be sold to young winemakers as part of a support programme implemented by the Société d’Aménagement Foncier et d’Etablissement Rural land use and rural settlement organisation.

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“This project should help support our growth in France and internationally. We are delighted that young winegrowers will also benefit from this move,” Sainte Marguerite vineyard MD Olivier Fayard said.

The deal is expected to be completed this summer.

Reports again emerged last year about Pernod Ricard’s possible strategy for its overall wine business, which also includes assets in Australia and New Zealand.

A report by The Australian Financial Review in September suggested Pernod Ricard had asked two investment banks to conduct a “strategic review” of its Australia and New Zealand businesses, including the local wine division.

In a statement provided to Just Drinks at the time, a spokesperson for Pernod Ricard said it “regularly assesses and evaluates its strategic opportunities and is continuously exploring options, including divestments or the streamlining of some or part of individual business units”.

They added: “No decision has been made regarding any particular action.”

Witting for Just Drinks in February, columnist Richard Woodard said it would be a surprise if Pernod Ricard decided to exit wine entirely, arguing the company’s Champagne brands – and Sainte Marguerite – remained assets to the business.

In 2023, French wine and spirits export volumes fell by more than 10% as inflationary pressures and a decline in consumer demand hit sales. Wine export volumes slid 9.4% to 122.6m cases, measured in bottles of twelve.

The value of sales of still PDO wines was down 4.6% at €5.35bn. Champagne export sales dipped 0.6% to €4.19bn amid an 11.2% decline in volumes, according to data from The French Association of Wine and Spirits Exporters.