Constellation and BRL Hardy Announce Formation of New US Joint Venture Wine Company

FAIRPORT, N.Y., Jun 11, 2001 /PRNewswire/ -- Constellation Brands, Inc. (NYSE: STZ and STZ.B), the largest single-source supplier of imported beer, wine and distilled spirits in the US, and BRL Hardy Ltd. (ASX: BRL), the second largest wine company in Australia, announced today that they have signed a definitive agreement to form a new joint venture wine company. The new company, Pacific Wine Partners, will produce, market and sell a global portfolio of premium wines in the US, including a portfolio of Australian imports, the fastest growing wine category in the industry.

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The joint venture will be equally owned by the two partners and is expected to be slightly accretive to Constellation's earnings per share in the current fiscal year. Pacific Wine Partners will have the US distribution rights to seven brands -- Banrock Station, Hardys, Leasingham, Barossa Valley Estate and Chateau Reynella from Australia; Nobilo from New Zealand and La Baume from France. The new company will also own Farallon, an award-winning wine from the Central Coast, and Riverland Vineyards winery in Monterey County, California. In addition, the joint venture will control 1,400 acres of vineyards in Monterey. Pacific Wine Partners is estimated to begin operations in August 2001, and the closing of the transaction is subject to satisfaction of customary closing conditions. In addition to its 50% share of equity, Constellation will receive $37 million in cash, which will be used to reduce debt.

Richard Sands, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of Constellation, said, "Our alliance with BRL Hardy melds their Australian winemaking skills and Constellation's distribution strength to create a leading portfolio of premium wines." Mr. Sands added, "This new wine company will produce, market, and sell a global portfolio of premium wines in the US -- a category where Australian wines have a strong market position and have the highest growth rate of any imported wines. Our wine portfolio, already one of the broadest in the world, will gain immediate depth in one of the fastest growing categories."

Stephen Millar, Managing Director of BRL Hardy, said, "In Constellation we have found an ideal partner who will enable us to establish a strong presence with US wines in the US market. We will achieve this presence quickly and efficiently because Constellation brings to this joint venture an existing California winery and vineyards combined with powerful US distribution. The joint venture will focus on driving sales of its high growth Australian, New Zealand, French and California wine portfolio, introducing new premium wines as well as pursuing acquisitions. We believe that our combined resources will enable us to quickly become an industry leader."

Jose F. Fernandez, who joined BRL Hardy, North America last year as Chief Executive Officer, will head Pacific Wine Partners. Previously Mr. Fernandez had been President and Chief Executive Officer of Southcorp, North America. In this position, Mr. Fernandez led the development of the number one Australian wine import to the US. Other members of the executive team will consist of employees from both BRL Hardy and Constellation.

Constellation Brands, Inc., is a leader in the production and marketing of beverage alcohol brands in North America and the United Kingdom and is a leading independent drinks wholesaler in the United Kingdom. As the second largest supplier of wine, the second largest importer of beer and the fourth largest supplier of distilled spirits, Constellation is the largest single-source supplier of these products in the United States. With its broad product portfolio, composed of brands in all major beverage alcohol categories, Constellation believes it is distinctly positioned to satisfy an array of consumer preferences.

BRL Hardy was formed in 1992 with the merger between two of South Australia's most respected wine companies, Berri Renmano Limited and Thomas Hardy & Sons Pty, Ltd. With wine production now exceeding 20 million cases per annum, BRL Hardy has grown into one of Australia's leading wine companies and is one of the ten largest wine groups in the world. It has a comprehensive portfolio of products across all price points with a strong focus on premium wine production.

Forward-Looking Statements

Constellation makes forward-looking statements from time to time and desires to take advantage of the "safe harbor" which is afforded such statements under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 when they are accompanied by meaningful cautionary statements identifying important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements.

The statements set forth in this press release, which are not historical facts, are forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements. Any projections of future results of operations should not be construed in any manner as a guarantee that such results will in fact occur. In particular, Constellation's expectation that the acquisition will be slightly accretive to earnings per share in Fiscal Year 2002 is based upon the Joint Venture achieving certain sales projections, meeting certain cost targets and successfully integrating the new organization. Statements regarding the expected closing of the transaction are subject to the risk that the closing conditions will not be satisfied. There can be no assurance that any forward-looking statement in this press release will be realized or that actual results will not be significantly higher or lower than set forth in or implied by such forward-looking statement. For risk factors associated with Constellation and their business, please refer to Constellation's Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

SOURCE Constellation Brands, Inc.

CONTACT: Investor Relations - Mark Maring
716-218-2132
Media Relations - Ginny Clark
716-218-2167
both of Constellation Brands; or David Woods of BRL Hardy
703-395-4662