jamie goode's wine blog: Constellation acquires Flagstone

Monday, October 08, 2007

Constellation acquires Flagstone

News today is that Bruce Jack's Flagstone winery has been acquired by the world's largest wine company, Constellation.

Jack will stay on, and will oversee viticulture and winemaking with all of Constellation's South African interests, primarily the Kumala brand (which last year they acquired from Western Wines, and which accounts for almost a quarter of South African wine sold in the UK).

The press release includes the following corporate-speak:

Troy Christensen, President of Constellation Europe, said: “We are delighted to have reached agreement leading to the proposed purchase such a renowned wine company and to secure the wine making skills and expertise of Bruce Jack and his team.

“I believe that the South African wine industry offers a huge opportunity for Constellation Europe to drive sales, generate profit and enhance its corporate image.

“A major challenge for the UK industry is to build the value of the wine category through a greater focus on developing premium brands and delivering high quality for consumers.

“The proposed purchase of such a high-profile South African wine-making company and its dynamic portfolio of wines will mean that we have a credible premium-orientated portfolio to spearhead the development of South African wine in the UK and across Europe.

“Flagstone will help to take the South African category to another level of success by providing an incentive for the wine trade to ‘premiumise’ their wine business and by
encouraging more shoppers to trade up to better quality more often.”



At 1:37 PM, Blogger bsmith said...

that's pretty shocking news Jamie. I guess Bruce will be at WoSA so we can ask him exactly why he thought Constellation the right 'partner' for his maverick wine maneouvres

At 1:56 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

I agree - I was stunned. I'm off to the Wines of South Africa tasting later so I'll see if I can catch him

At 2:58 PM, Anonymous Keith Prothero said...

Yes bad news indeed. I am actually in Perpignan right now,and hence will miss the WOSA.
Tom Lubbe sends his regards Jamie.

Interesting the number of Cape wineries investing in the Roussillon.Apart from Tom,there is Jeff Grier,Boplass and John Nel of Camberley.
We hope to buy a biodynamic vineyard soon,and hence hopefully you can taste our first vintage in 2009.

At 7:43 PM, Anonymous Alex Lake said...

Do these guys have no shame?!

(actually, don't answer that...)

At 8:06 PM, Anonymous Doug said...

to drive sales, generate profit and enhance its corporate image

"a greater focus on developing premium brands"

"a credible premium-orientated portfolio to spearhead"

“Flagstone will help to take the South African category to another level of success by providing an incentive for the wine trade to ‘premiumise’ their wine business"

Premium b****ocks! It's horrible when quality wineries become just another brand in the portfolio of multinational companies. This is everything that is crass and shallow about the wine trade.

At 8:39 PM, Anonymous bohoparadox said...

It was the comment of premiumise that caught my eye as well.

If but for any other reason but that..it reeks of a sell out!

At 9:17 PM, Blogger Peter May - The Pinotage Club said...

So Jack will be making Kumala???

My heart sinks.

One of the most innovative, imaginative, exciting and dedicated winemakers is subsumed into a faceless corporation..

A sad day for SA wines

At 9:29 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

I did manage to catch Bruce this afternoon. Interestingly, the news hadn't broken and most of the people at the WOSA tasting were unaware. He'd been interviewed by just one SA journo, and so we went off, found somewhere to sit, and had a lengthy chat. I'm going to write up the interview now and post it on the main part of the site. Of course, Bruce is going to give it a positive spin, but bearing this in mind, and while deploring the corporate jargon of the press release, there could be a bright side to this.

At 6:05 AM, Blogger Oscar Foulkes said...

The navy needs the odd pirate!

Kumala could do with some of Bruce's passion. No matter how little the 'sniffers and spitters' think of the wine they put into the bottle, the brand is a bellwether for South Africa.

And, I assume that the deal will give Bruce's brands vastly increased distribution without him having to spend his life on aeroplanes.

Excluding those of us "whose faces are marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strive valiantly, who err, and come short again and again" in the pursuit of marketing and selling wine, I don't think anybody realises just how hard the business side of this industry is.

I was stunned and surprised myself, but I wouldn't rush to criticise Bruce.

At 8:02 AM, Anonymous Alex Bazeley said...

Wow, I was just down there at the winery the other day, and Bruce did seem preoccupied, but obviously didn't let on that anything big like this was on the cards

I really hope that constellation will let him and his team carry on doing the unusual stuff... that's what has always made Flagstone so much fun...

At 12:13 PM, Anonymous zeitgeist said...

This is great news for South Africa and for Bruce and Flagstone. The Constellation machine is so diverse that they won't/can't assimilate him rather his passion and quality should help to increase perceptions of Kumala which is still the largest wine from South Africa and as such the trail blazer. It should also provide a good home for Kumala which the wine has always needed to be considered "normal"


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