Brown-Forman may sell off a winery

A tractor driver at a Sonoma-Cutrer vineyard in the Russian River Valley.

In the wake of news that Constellation Brands has sold 80% of its stake in its wine holdings comes news that beverage giant Brown-Forman Corp. is exploring “strategic alternatives” for its Mendocino County, CA, wine holdings.

However, a spokesman for Brown-Forman, best known to the public for its Jack Daniel's Tennessee whiskey, Woodford Reserve bourbon and Finlandia vodka, said the Louisville, KY, company has no plans to sell its Sonoma County winery, Sonoma-Cutrer.

"We concluded we’re very pleased with its brand-building model and that it can continue to do well in our hands," spokesman Phil Lynch told the Santa Rose, CA, Press-Democrat.

Brown-Forman says it is exploring strategic alternatives, including a possible sale, for the Fetzer winery, bottling facility and vineyards in Mendocino County and its other Hopland-based brands.

Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported Brown-Forman was putting its wine business on the block after several years of sluggish sales.

(Go here for a report on my visit to Sonoma-Cutrer at harvest time.)

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