Mildara Blass, the Foster's Brewing Group subsidiary that produces more than a dozen Australian wine brands, including Wolf Blass and Black Opal, has purchased Windsor Vineyards in Sonoma County for $32 million.
The deal, which is expected to close by the end of March, includes the Windsor brand name, the company's new sales and distribution center in Windsor, Calif., equipment and customer lists. No vineyard land will change hands.
Windsor, which sold 190,000 cases in 1999, is the largest direct-sales winery in the United States. It distributes its more than 40 bottlings, which range in price from $7 to $25, only via catalogs, telephone orders, the Internet and its tasting rooms.
Mildara Blass is bringing on a new winemaker, Toni Stockhausen, for the 2000 vintage. Stockhausen was a senior winemaker for the Mildara winery in the Coonawarra region of Australia, and last year, she also made the wines of Bayliss & Fortune, a California brand owned by Mildara Blass.
Foster's Brewing Group has been on a four-year buying spree, spending about $1 billion on wineries and direct-sales wine clubs in Europe, the United States and Australia. Mildara Blass also announced this month that it purchased a 25 percent stake in Wine Planet Holdings, Australia's largest online wine retailer, for almost $32 million.
"We're aiming to have a really global approach," said Rell Hannah, director of corporate affairs for Mildara Blass. "Windsor gives us a truly international reach. They've excelled in certain areas we think we can learn from -- in particular, business-to-business, personalized labeling methodologies, and they're also very successful in Internet sales."
The purchase of Windsor brings Mildaras international customer base to more than 1 million. Mildara totaled about $77 million in sales in the last fiscal year, of which 40 percent came from direct marketing.
Learn more about other recent Mildara Blass ventures: