Constellation Brands

Constellation Brands, Inc., a Fortune 500 company,[3] is an international producer and marketer of beer, wine and spirits. Constellation is the largest beer import company in the US, measured by sales,[4] and has the third-largest market share (7.4 percent) of all major beer suppliers.[5] It also has invesments in medical marijuana.[6] Based in Victor, New York, Constellation has about 40 facilities and approximately 9,000 employees. [7]

Constellation Brands, Inc.
Traded asNYSE: STZ (Class A)
S&P 500 Component
PredecessorCanandaigua Brands Inc
Founded1945 (1945)
FounderMarvin Sands
United States
Number of locations
United States, Mexico, New Zealand, Italy, Canada
Key people
Rob Sands
Richard Sands
(Vice Chairman)
Bill Newlands
ProductsWine, beer, and spirits
Revenue US$7.33 billion (2017)[2]
US$2.40 billion (2017)[2]
US$1.54 billion (2017)[2]
Total assets US$18.60 billion (2017)[2]
Total equity US$6.88 billion (2017)[2]
Number of employees
8,700[3] (2017)
DivisionsBeer Division, Wine & Spirits Division

The company has more than 100 brands in its portfolio. Wine brands include Robert Mondavi, Richards Wild Irish Rose, Ravenswood Winery, Wild Horse Winery, Clos du Bois, Franciscan Estates, Kim Crawford, Meiomi, Mark West, Ruffino, and The Prisoner. Constellation's beer portfolio includes imported brands such as Corona, Modelo Especial, Negra Modelo, and Pacífico, as well as American "craft" beer producer Funky Buddha. Spirits brands include Svedka Vodka, Casa Noble Tequila and High West Whiskey, Nelson's Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey.

Constellation Brands is currently embroiled in a water rights dispute over a proposed manufacturing facility in the desert city of Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico. This water comes from the Colorado River, which not only provides Mexicali and the agricultural valley but is also piped to the mountain and coastal cities of Tijuana, Tecate, Rosarito and to some areas of Ensenada. [8]

Historical overview

  • See 'Acquisitions and Divestments' section, below, for details of investments.

The company was established in 1945 by Marvin Sands in the Finger Lakes region of New York as Canandaigua Industries, selling bulk wine to bottlers in the eastern United States.[9] In its first year, the company sold approximately 200,000 gallons of wine and had gross sales of $150,000.[10]

The company was incorporated as Canandaigua Wine Company, Inc. in 1972 and went public in 1973.[11] Marvin's son Richard Sands became president in 1993 and CEO in 1996.[9] In 1999, Marvin Sands died following a brief illness.[9]

In 2000, the company changed its name to Constellation Brands, Inc. to reflect the scope of the company and its range of brands.[10] In 2007, Rob Sands was named president and CEO.[12]

In 2017, the company began investing in medical marijuana. In March 2019, Bill Newlands became CEO.[13]

Wine fraud

In 2010, a French court in Carcassonne, France, convicted 12 wine traders and producers for selling fake Pinot noir wine to buyers in the US, amongst them Constellation, in a scheme that lasted from January 2006 to March 2008. Constellation later faced and settled a class action lawsuit because it "should have known" that the wine was fake.[14]

Acquisitions and divestments

Constellation Brands has expanded by acquiring other drinks companies.

In 1987, the company purchased the Manischewitz winery in Canandaigua, New York, and continues to license the Manischewitz name from R.A.B. Foods.[15]

In 1998 it acquired Matthew Clark plc in the United Kingdom, and after selling off its cider business, the Gaymer Cider Company, sold half of the business to Punch Taverns.

During the 2000s, there were multiple acquisitions, with some divestments later in the decade. Acquisitions included BRL Hardy (Australia)[16] and Nobilo (New Zealand) in 2003; Robert Mondavi Corp. for $1 billion in 2004;[17] Vincor International, Canada's largest wine company, for $1.44 billion in 2006;[18] Spirits Marque One (owner of Svedka Vodka) in 2007;[19] and Beam Wines Estates, the wine operations of Fortune Brands (which included several major brands such as Clos du Bois) for $885 million in 2008.[20] The company later moved to a more premium wine portfolio, divesting Almaden Vineyards, Inglenook Winery, and the Paul Masson winery in Madera, California, in 2008,[21] and its value spirits portfolio to the Sazerac Company in 2009.[22]

In 2013, Constellation acquired Grupo Modelo's US beer business from Anheuser-Busch InBev. The transaction included full ownership of Crown Imports LLC which provided Constellation with complete, independent control of all aspects of the US commercial business; a brewery in Mexico; exclusive perpetual brand license in the US to import, market and sell Corona and the Modelo brands and the freedom to develop brand extensions and innovations for the US market.[12] Constellation had formerly imported Corona and other Modelo brands to the United States and acquired the US rights to those brands as a part of an anti-trust settlement permitting Modelo's acquisition by Anheuser-Busch InBev. It now produces its own versions of those products for the US, with Modelo serving all other countries. In 2014, Constellation finalized a joint venture with Owens-Illinois and completed the acquisition of Anheuser-Busch InBev's glass production plant, located adjacent to the company's brewery in Nava, Mexico.[23]

In December 2015, Constellation announced the $1 billion acquisition of Ballast Point Brewing of San Diego.[24]

In October 2016, Constellation announced the $160 million dollar acquisition of High West Distillery of Park City, Utah.[25]

In August 2017, Constellation announced the acquisition of Funky Buddha Brewery of Oakland Park, Florida.[26]

In October 2017, Constellation agreed to pay about C$245 million ($191 million) for a 9.9% stake in Canopy Growth Corporation, a Canadian seller of medicinal-marijuana products.[27] At the time of the agreement, Constellation became the first Fortune 500 company and the first major alcoholic beverage maker to take a minority stake in a marijuana business.[28]

In April 2018, Accolade Wines (acquired under the name BRL Hardy) was sold to private equity firm The Carlyle Group. Constellation had already in 2011 reduced its holdings in Accolade to 20 per cent.[29][30]

In August 2018, the company announced that it would invest an additional US$4 billion in Canopy Growth Corporation in advance of the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada in October that year. The investment will increase its share in the Canadian Company to 38%. Canopy Growth president Bruce Linton said the additional funds would be used for international expansion and that future marketing plans included products such as cannabis-infused beverages and sleep aids.[6][31]

In February 2019, Constellation announced it had acquired a minority stake in Black Button Distilling, a craft spirits distillery in Rochester, NY.

In April 2019, Constellation announced a deal to sell wine brands, including Clos du Bois and Mark West, to E. & J. Gallo Winery for $1.7 billion. [32]

In July 2019, Constellation announced it had acquired a minority stake in Montanya Distillers, a craft rum distillery in Crested Butte, CO and a majority stake in Nelson's Green Brier Distillery, a revival of the original Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey and Belle Meade Bourbon labels in Nashville, TN.[33]

In December 2019, the sale of Ballast Point Brewing to Kings & Convicts Brewery of Illinois was announced. Terms were not disclosed.[34]


  1. "Fiscal Year 2019 Summary Annual Report" (PDF). Constellation Brands. p. 4. Retrieved September 11, 2019.
  2. Constellation Brands, Incorporated (April 27, 2017), FORM 10-K for the Fiscal Year Ended February 28, 2017, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, File 001-08495, Film 17786897, retrieved June 6, 2017
  3. "Constellation Brands". Fortune. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
  4. Brewers Association. "Sales of the leading beer import companies in the United States in 2015 (in million U.S. dollars)". In Statista - The Statistics Portal. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
  5. Beer Marketer's Insights. "Beer Marketer's Insights - Major Supplier Shipments and Share: 2015 vs 2014". Retrieved December 10, 2016.
  6. Sheetz, Michael (August 15, 2018). "Corona beer maker Constellation ups bet on cannabis with $4 billion investment in Canopy Growth". CNBC. NBCUniversal. Retrieved September 11, 2019.
  7. Constellation Brands. "Company Profile" (PDF). Retrieved June 6, 2017.
  8. "As big beer moves in activists in mexicali fight".
  9. Fisher, Lawrence (August 31, 1999). "Marvin Sands, Winery's Chairman, Dies at 75". The New York Times. Retrieved June 6, 2017.
  10. Constellation Brands. "Constellation Brands | History and Heritage". Retrieved April 16, 2018.
  11. Paulson, Lynn. "The birth of Canandaigua Industries". Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  12. Doob, Rachael (February 22, 2015). "Get To Know Robert Sands, President of Constellation Brands". Grape Collective. Retrieved June 6, 2017.
  13. "Constellation Brands Names Bill Newlands Next CEO".
  14. "French Pinot Noir Class Action Settlement". February 7, 2012. Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  15. "Manischewitz wine - heritage - history". Archived from the original on August 1, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-06.
  16. Shaw, John (January 18, 2003). "Constellation Brands Agrees to Buy Australian Winery". The New York Times. Retrieved April 24, 2009.
  17. "Mondavi to Join Constellation in $1 Billion Deal". Wine Spectator. Retrieved May 15, 2009.
  18. "Constellation To Buy Vincor for $1.09 Billion". USA Today. April 3, 2006. Retrieved May 15, 2009.
  19. "Constellation Brands to Buy Svedka Vodka". Reuters. February 6, 2007. Retrieved May 15, 2009.
  20. Sam Zuckerman (November 13, 2007). "Constellation Brands buys several California premium wine labels". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved November 13, 2007.
  21. Styles, Oliver (January 23, 2008). "Constellation sells Inglenook, Almaden and Paul Masson winery, reports 832 million dollar loss".
  22. Gershberg, Michele (January 12, 2009). "Constellation Sells Value Spirits for $334 Mln". Reuters UK. Retrieved May 15, 2009.
  23. Towns, Chip (December 19, 2014). "O-I enters joint venture to co-own glass plant". The Blade. Retrieved June 6, 2017.
  24. "Constellation to Buy Ballast Point Brewing for $1 Billion". November 16, 2015. Retrieved April 14, 2018 via
  25. Mickle, Tripp. "Constellation Brands Acquires High West Distillery for $160 Million". WSJ. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  26. "Craft Brewer Funky Buddha Joins Constellation Brands". Nasdaq. August 10, 2017. Retrieved August 10, 2017.
  27. Bovaird, Charles (October 31, 2017). "This Is the First Fortune 500 Marijuana Stock". Investopedia. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  28. Nurin, Tara. "When It Comes To Weed, One Major Alcohol Company Decides If You Can't Beat 'Em Join 'Em". Forbes. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  29. Macdonald, Anthony; Thompson, Sarah (April 5, 2018). "CHAMP secures $1b deal for Australian winemaker Accolade Wines". Australian Financial Review. Fairfax Media. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
  30. Berry, Petrina (June 1, 2018). "US firm looks to Asia after buying SA-based Accolade Wines". InDaily. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
  31. "'This is rocket fuel': Constellation Brands spending [C]$5 billion to boost stake in Canopy Growth". August 15, 2017. Retrieved August 10, 2017.
  32. Thomas, Patrick (April 3, 2019). "Constellation to Sell Several Wine Brands to Gallo in $1.7 Billion Deal". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  33. "Constellation Brands |".
  34. Noel, Josh. "Ballast Point sold to tiny suburban Chicago brewery Kings and Convicts in beer industry stunner". Retrieved December 4, 2019.
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