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Sonoma County’s Vintage Wine Estates plans Eastern US expansion with Ohio acquisition

Vintage Wine Estates, a locally based group of California and Pacific Northwest brands such as B.R. Cohn and Ace Cider, on Tuesday said it acquired a 120-year-old Midwest contract winery, brewery and distillery, with plans to make it an Eastern U.S. hub for production of ready-to-drink adult beverage mixes and cider.

The Santa Rosa-based company (Nasdaq: VWE) acquired Meier’s Beverage Group (Meier’s Wine Cellars Inc.) in the Cincinnati suburb of Silverton, Ohio, for $25 million split equally in cash and stock, according to the announcement and a regulatory filing. The deal also includes a $10 million earn-out clause if Meier’s pro forma earnings top current levels in the next three years.

The purchase price was valued at about eight times Meier’s 2021 adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, according to the news release.

Started in the late 1800s, Meier’s is said to be the oldest and largest winery in that state. President Paul Lux will continue to lead the company, according to Vintage. That company produces over 800,000 cases annually from three bottling lines and a beverage canning line.

With that addition to production capacity for Vintage, with previously sold the equivalent of nearly 2 million 9-liter cases of wine and spirits annually, it gains more warehouse space and a hub for distribution to the Midwest Northeast and Southwest, the company said.

“Vintage Wine Estates has a longstanding relationship with Meier’s and has been a spirits client for many years,” said CEO Pat Roney in a statement. “We know their operation to be among the most well-managed in the business. We are particularly excited about their expertise in ready-to-drink wine and beverage alcohol production and plan to expand our RTD production, including Ace Cider products, at their facility.”

Vintage acquired Sebastopol-based California Cider Co., maker of Ace, in November.

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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