LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Brown‑Forman announced that the Duckhorn Portfolio Inc., a premier wine group, will acquire Sonoma‑Cutrer Vineyards and related brand trademarks. In exchange, Brown‑Forman will receive an ownership percentage of approximately 21.5% in the Duckhorn Portfolio and $50 million.
The transaction, subject to certain customary closing adjustments and conditions, is expected to close in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2024.
“The Duckhorn Portfolio has a strong reputation for producing and marketing some of the world’s finest wines. Their understanding of the wine consumer, combined with a strong and diverse route to market, give Brown‑Forman great confidence that Sonoma‑Cutrer will continue to grow and thrive as part of the larger Duckhorn portfolio,” said Lawson Whiting, president and chief executive officer, Brown‑Forman Corporation.
“Adding Sonoma‑Cutrer to the Duckhorn portfolio will enhance one of the most respected wine portfolios in the industry. Moreover, we believe an equity stake in the Duckhorn Portfolio will be a valuable investment for Brown‑Forman, allowing us to maintain a presence in the wine category while focusing resources on building our premium and super-premium spirits brands.”
Under the terms of the agreement, the Sonoma‑Cutrer brand trademarks, facilities, and six vineyards in two appellations will join the Duckhorn Portfolio’s fine wine brands. Upon closing, Brown‑Forman will receive two seats on the Duckhorn Portfolio’s board of directors.
Deirdre Mahlan, the Duckhorn Portfolio’s interim president, chair and CEO, added, “Sonoma‑Cutrer has a long history of excellence in crafting fine wines and will be an outstanding addition to our portfolio of luxury wines. We will be fortunate to welcome Brown‑Forman, a storied industry leader, as a long-term shareholder and look forward to their representation on our board.”
Sonoma‑Cutrer has been crafting wines since 1981 and is one of California’s best-known Chardonnay brands. Brown‑Forman purchased the vineyards and brand trademarks in 1999. Sonoma‑Cutrer is now the third-largest luxury Chardonnay brand in the U.S. by retail sales and the fastest growing major brand in the category, according to Circana, formerly IRI.