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11.13.2013  
 

Northwest Winery Dealings Continue

French wine company becomes sole owner of Osoyoos Larose as Constellation sells off shares

 
by Peter Mitham
 
 
“osoyoos
 
Mathieu Mericer was named winemaker at Osoyoos Larose in July. The winery, previously a joint venture between Constellation Brands Canada and Groupe Taillan of France, is now entirely owned by the French company.
Osoyoos, B.C.Constellation Brands Canada has quietly sold its shares in a joint venture with France’s Groupe Taillan in the latest deal to ripple through the Northwest wine industry this year.

A deal value wasn’t disclosed for the transaction, which saw the acclaimed Osoyoos Larose venture become solely owned by Groupe Taillan.

Osoyoos Larose was launched in 1998 as a joint venture between Vincor International and Groupe Taillan. Bordeaux winemaker Pascal Madevon, who had overseen winemaking at the property since 2000, left earlier this year to become winemaker at Oliver, B.C.-based Culmina Family Estate Winery, the latest venture of former Vincor president and CEO Don Triggs.

Constellation acquired Osoyoos Larose and its 80-acre site on the east side of Lake Osoyoos with its purchase of Vincor in 2006.

The winery
Osoyoos Larose has garnered much acclaim for its Bordeaux-style wines during the past 15 years, and Madevon was impressed with the potential for the project from the initial vintage in 2001, made when the vines were just in their second year.

While it doesn’t boast a destination winery, Osoyoos Larose nevertheless has quietly shown the potential of the region, which Groupe Taillan favoured because of its arid climate and lack of grapevine diseases that allowed for optimal control of the maturation process.

Speaking with Wines & Vines, Triggs said Groupe Taillan’s decision to assume full ownership of the property could only mean good news for the B.C. wine industry.

“An owner of major high-end chateaus in France making a bigger investment in the B.C. wine industry has to be a very good thing,” he said.

While he was unable to comment on the evolution of the venture and Constellation’s divesting itself of its stake, Triggs said Groupe Taillan’s increasing commitment to the province’s wine industry is “very positive.”

Groupe Taillan hasn’t disclosed what changes or investments it might make in the property now that it has sole ownership, saying in a statement only that it “is pursuing its development strategy in the wine industry and is leading the new team in its drive to position Osoyoos Larose as the next standard in great Canadian red wines.”

Groupe Taillan has secured former Vincor executive Roger Provost and “his considerable expertise” for the winery’s governing board while Bordeaux winemaker Mathieu Mercier is overseeing this year’s vintage, having been appointed Madevon’s successor in July.

Sales and auctions
The deal follows major investments elsewhere in the Northwest this year by the likes of France’s Maison Jadot and California’s Jackson Family Wines (see “Oregon Wine Continues to Draw Investment”), and comes in advance of a major land auction planned for Red Mountain next week.

Kennewick Irrigation District announced in September that it would auction slightly more than 670 acres of land Nov. 23. The property will sell in 22 parcels and includes close to 519 acres within the coveted Red Mountain AVA appellation. The irrigation district has owned the property since 1943, well before the growth of the local wine industry and Red Mountain’s acclaim as a viticultural area.

Better, the properties come with water rights—making them especially desirable as plans for improved water delivery to the AVA and greater ancillary development advance (see “Red Mountain Development Heats Up.”)

“We think this will attract a lot of attention in the wine industry. Red Mountain is the smallest AVA in Washington, and this land has not been available for planting previously,” auctioneer Scott Musser said in a statement announcing the auction. “This sale will include 17% of the 3,040 acres that are still unplanted inside the AVA.”

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