Diageo sells last US winery to Foley Family Wines

08 February, 2016

Foley Family Wines has acquired the Chalone Estate Vineyard in Monterey County, California from Diageo for an undisclosed sum.

The disposal represents the last of Diageo’s wine holdings in the US to be sold, following its sale of the bulk of its wine assets to Treasury Wine Estates for £390 million last year.

Foley’s acquisition includes the Chalone Estate Vineyard and Gavilan brands, together with some 240 acres under vine.

The vineyards overlook the Salinas Valley and Chalone Estate is the sole winery in the Chalone American Viticultural Area.

The estate includes some of the oldest producing vines in Monterey County, with a Chenin Blanc planting dating back to 1919.

Around 50% of Chalone’s output is accounted for by Chardonnay, although it also grows a number of othervwhite and red varietals, including Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and Grenache.

The predominance of Chardonnay in Chalone’s production was a key factor in TWE’s decision not to acquire the vineyard, TWE chief executive Michael Clarke told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Diageo acquired the Chalone Estate in 2004 for £170 million.

Chief executive Ivan Menezes, who at the time headed up Diageo in the US, led the way on the purchase.

However, under pressure from investors after a series of uninspiring sales figures, Menezes has been forced to dispose of a range of non-core assets in the wine and beer sectors.

Chalone was selling around 30,000 cases a year in 2004 and subsequently peaked at over 200,000 cases, although sales have fallen away in recent years.

Bill Foley, proprietor of Foley Family Wines said, "We have incredible wineries and vineyards stretching from Lincourt in Solvang, California up to Three Rivers in Walla Walla Washington.

"Chalone Estate Vineyard, with its great wines and incredible history, gives our consumers and guests world class wine options along the entire coast."

Founded in 1996, Foley Family Wines already has a portfolio which includes a range of wineries in California and New Zealand.

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