Constellation Purchases Remaining Portion of Iconic Ruffino Wine Business

VICTOR, N.Y., Oct. 6, 2011 - Constellation Brands, Inc. (NYSE: STZ), the world's leading premium wine company, announced today that it has purchased the remaining 50.1 percent of Ruffino S.r.l. from MPF International S.r.l., an entity controlled by the Folonari family of Tuscany, Italy for approximately €50 million, ($69 million). Constellation also assumes approximately €55 million, ($73 million) of debt, net of cash acquired, as part of the transaction. Constellation welcomes approximately 130 employees and now fully owns the iconic Ruffino brand and historical production facility located in close proximity to Florence.  The wines continue to be produced on approximately 600 hectares of prestigious vineyards at the same Tuscan Estates of Ruffino as has been done for decades.

 "The prestigious Ruffino brand, which dates back to 1877, is an internationally recognized Old World wine brand that sets the standard for Italian wines," said Rob Sands, president and chief executive officer, Constellation Brands, Inc. "We intend to build on the history of the Folonari family and the image and reputation they brought to the brand for today's wine consumers who enjoy Tuscan style wines."

"Constellation has a history of evolving iconic wines, such as the Robert Mondavi brand, and nurturing them to their full potential," said Adolfo Folonari, the outgoing managing director of Ruffino S.r.l, who will remain with Ruffino as a board member. "I am confident that Constellation will leverage its global best practices to take the Ruffino brand to an entirely new level, while carefully preserving the heritage of the wines."

Among Ruffino's most recognized brands are the coveted Ruffino Riserva Ducale which is celebrating its 80th anniversary vintage this year and Riserva Ducale Gold, Il Ducale, Chianti Superiore, Lumina and Modus. According to SymphonyIRI industry data for the last 52 weeks, Ruffino is experiencing approximately eight percent growth in dollar sales in the U.S.  Ruffino's year-to-date global sales are growing at nine percent. The brand has launched a number of new items in the last year, including the highly successful introduction of Ruffino Prosecco sparkling wine.

Constellation also named Sandro Sartor to be the general manager of Ruffino, effective November 1, 2011. Sartor will be responsible for running the day-to-day operations of the Ruffino business and will report to Greg Fowler, Constellation's senior vice president, operations. Most recently, Sartor served as managing director and general manager for Diageo Italia S.p.A.

Constellation's equity interest in Ruffino began in 2004 with a 40 percent stake in the company and increased to 49.9 percent in 2010.  Since then, the Ruffino brand has become one of Constellation's 19 "focus brands" which represent the majority of profit for the company's U.S. wine and spirits business.

 

Ruffino annually produces 1.3 million cases of wine which are sold in key markets around the world. Approximately 50 percent of its sales are currently made by Constellation in the U.S. The remaining portion is expected to become incremental to Constellation's total wine volumes.       

 

For financial reporting purposes, Constellation will begin consolidating Ruffino's financial results in its North American segment, where previously they were recorded as equity earnings. Constellation expects this transaction to be neutral to the company's ongoing diluted EPS for fiscal 2012.

 

 

About Constellation Brands

 

Constellation Brands is the world's leading premium wine company that achieves success through an unmatched knowledge of wine consumers, storied brands that suit varied lives and tastes, and talented employees worldwide. With a broad portfolio of widely admired premium products across the wine, beer and spirits categories, Constellation's brand portfolio includes Robert Mondavi, Clos du Bois, Blackstone, Arbor Mist, Estancia, Ravenswood, Ruffino, Jackson-Triggs, Kim Crawford, Corona Extra, Black Velvet Canadian Whisky and SVEDKA Vodka.

 

Constellation Brands (NYSE: STZ and STZ.B) is a S&P 500 Index and Fortune 1000® company with more than 100 brands in our portfolio, sales in about 100 countries and operations in approximately 30 facilities. The company believes that industry leadership involves a commitment to our brands, to the trade, to the land, to investors and to different people around the world who turn to our products when celebrating big moments or enjoying quiet ones. We express this commitment through our vision: to elevate life with every glass raised. To learn more about Constellation, visit the company's website at www.cbrands.com.

 

About Ruffino S.r.l.

Founded in 1877, Ruffino is synonymous with the story of Tuscan winemaking. Classic wines such as Chianti Classico and Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano have always been the soul of Ruffino's portfolio. The foresight of the winery and the desire of new exciting challenges, has also led to the creation of imposing Supertuscans and other wines produced with local and international grape varieties.

Tradition and innovation. Experience. Territory. Desire to reach excellence through passion and knowledge, in the vineyards as well as in the cellars. A historic, yet dynamic and modern producer of one of the most acclaimed Italian products in the world: wine. To learn more about Ruffino, visit the company's website www.ruffino.com

 

Forward-Looking Statements

 

This news release contains forward-looking statements.  The words "intend," and "expect" and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements, although not all forward-looking statements contain such identifying words.  As to Constellation and/or Ruffino, these statements may relate to business strategy, future operations, prospects, plans and objectives of management, as well as information concerning expected actions of third parties.  All forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those set forth in, or implied by, such forward-looking statements.     

 

All forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this news release.  Constellation can give no assurance that the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements will prove to be correct  and undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

 

In addition to risks associated with ordinary business operations, the forward-looking statements contained in this news release are subject to other risks and uncertainties, including other factors and uncertainties disclosed from time to time in the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended Feb. 28, 2011, which could cause actual future performance to differ from current expectations.

 

Media Relations                                       
Angela Howland Blackwell-585-678-7141
Cheryl Gossin--585-957-3701
Ruffino: Francesco Sorelli--+0039 55 83605

 

Investor Relations
Patty Yahn-Urlaub--585-678-7483
Bob Czudak--585-678-7170


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