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Argentina’s Terold buys majority stake in Marin County’s WX Brands

A company owned by an Argentinian beer and wine family has acquired a majority share of Novato-based WX Brands, one of the nation’s largest producers of wines under its own brands as well as those for retailers and other businesses.

The deal by Terold, owned by members of the Bemberg Family Group and exporter of more than a quarter of wine from Argentina, was effective July 30, WX Brands announced Monday. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

WX Brands and the other wine assets of Terold will continue to operate as separate companies. The Novato company’s management team, including CEO Peter Byck, will continue in their present roles.

“WX Brands has built a strong business based on sound brand investments, a clean balance sheet, robust distribution, and a keen understanding of the wine consumer,” said Diego Herrera Sainz de Vicuña, member of the board of directors of Terold, in the announcement. “This investment is the result of several years of work on international expansion. WX Brands is an excellent complement to our current wine industry portfolio. We are convinced that both the Bemberg Family Group and WX Brands will benefit greatly.”

The family organization, which dates back to beer ventures in the late 18th century, has been steadily increasing its presence in the international wine business, including in California.

In 2010, Terold acquired Grupo Peñaflor, a major vintner in Argentina. In 2016, Grupo Peñaflor acquired Diageo’s wine operations in the country and entered a distribution and production agreement for the United Kindom-based company’s spirits in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay.

Grupo Peñaflor now accounts for 27% of Argentine wine exports, according to the deal announcement. The company also owns vineyards in Napa Valley and Lodi.

Intercontinental investments between North and South America have been happening in earnest for decades, including Robert Mondavi’s investments in vineyards and production in the southern hemisphere. Then in 2011, Chile-based Vina Concha y Toro Family of Wineries acquired the Fetzer Vineyards group of brands, including Mendocino County-based Fetzer.

WX Brands started in 1999 as a business-to-business e-commerce portal called Winery Exchange, but its business model rapidly changed to producing exclusive wine, beer and spirits brands. Several years ago, the company started building and acquiring its own national and global brands, including Bread & Butter, Jelly Jar, Napa Valley-focused Double Lariat, and California Central Coast-centric Chronic Cellars.

Today, the company sells 4 million cases of wine annually sourced from 14 countries. WX Brands now is the 14th largest supplier to the U.S. wine market, according to Wine Business Monthly’s February report.

“We have known and respected the Bemberg Family Group and Grupo Peñaflor for two decades. This partnership is an enormous vote of confidence for the WX Brands team and one that will accelerate the growth and success of both businesses,” Byck said in a statement.

The majority investment in WX Brands follows some high-profile California North Coast wine industry acquisitions and mergers. For example, at the end of last month, Napa Valley’s Delicato Family Wines completed its acquisition of Francis Ford Coppola and Virginia Dare wineries and related vineyard holdings in Sonoma County.

The origins of Terold go back to 1888, when Otto Bemberg’s Quilmes became the largest brewery conglomerate in South America. The Bemberg Family Group sold it to AB InBev in 2006 after a 50% joint venture. In the last three decades, Bemberg interests have included beverage sector partnerships with Heineken, AB InBev, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestle.

In the WX Brands deal, O'Melveny & Myers was WX’s legal counsel, and Credit Suisse was its financial adviser. Terold legal counsel was Winston & Strawn, and Rabobank its financial adviser.

Jeff Quackenbush covers wine, construction and real estate. Before the Business Journal, he wrote for Bay City News Service in San Francisco. He has a degree from Walla Walla University. Reach him at jquackenbush@busjrnl.com or 707-521-4256.

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