Gran Cruz, a firm known for volume Port brands but shifting toward premium wines, has purchased Quinta do Ventozelo, a Douro property with more than 500 acres of vines. The deal gives Gran Cruz an excellent source for grapes. Neither side would disclose the purchase price, but industry sources report it was for just under $16 million.
Ventozelo was recently in the spotlight because of a failed sale to Real Companhia Velha (RCV) in 2011. After the deal fell through, Gran Cruz signed an agreement to buy the quinta’s grape production. After a few harvests, Gran Cruz decided to buy the property outright.
Ventozelo is located on the left bank of the Douro river, in the parish of Ervedosa do Douro, and forms an immense amphitheater with a total of 1,000 acres, of which 500 are planted to red and white grapes. Altitudes range from 330 feet, close to the river, to 1,650 feet, perfect conditions for both Port wines and Douro table wines. The property also includes olive trees and a hunting reserve. This is a very old estate, with records dating back to 1569, when it was developed by Cistercian monks from São Pedro das Águias monastery.
The acquisition is another step in a strategic realignment by Gran Cruz, a subsidiary of liquor company La Martiniquaise. The family-owned French company was founded in 1934 as a rum importer and distributor, and it entered the Port business in 1956, with the creation of Porto Cruz. Partially thanks to inventive marketing, Porto Cruz is a leading brand, with close to 25 million bottles sold annually. The group is also a leader in Madeira wine, with majority stakes in Justino’s and Henriques & Henriques.
Gran Cruz was always defined as a company of mainstream brands until 2007, when their strategy started to change. The first step was the acquisition of Portuguese company C. da Silva, owner of brands Dalva and Presidential, as well as important stocks of old Port wines, including more than 40 different colheitas (single-harvest tawnies), rare old dry white Ports and white Port colheitas.
The second significant move was the acquisition of Vale de São Martinho, in 2007. A producer located in the Douro Valley, Vale de São Martinho allowed Gran Cruz to produce its own wine, instead of buying it. The purchase of Quinta do Ventozelo now allows them to produce their own high-quality grapes. Non-fortified wines from the site will be branded either Dalva or Quinta de Ventozelo.
Jorge Dias, Gran Cruz CEO since 2009, emphasized that the massive investment made in modern wineries allows the group to focus on premium products like Dalva and Presidential, while maintaining a strong position in mainstream brands like Porto Cruz. “Volumes are fundamental for the sustainability of the Port business, and for the survival of the Douro region,” he said.