Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Buys Oregon’s A to Z Wineworks

Purchase marks first acquisition for Ste. Michelle under the ownership of the New York private equity firm of Sycamore Partners.

Ste. Michelle Wine Estates has acquired A to Z Wineworks, a top-selling winery in Oregon. This is the first strategic acquisition for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates under the ownership of private equity firm Sycamore Partners. Together with Ste. Michelle’s Erath Winery, the addition of the A to Z and REX HILL brands gives Ste. Michelle a substantial presence in Oregon and the combined business will be a leading producer of the state’s signature variety, Pinot Noir.

“We are delighted to welcome A to Z to the Ste. Michelle family,” said David Dearie, President and CEO of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. “Erath and A to Z share the same passion for producing high quality wines at fair prices, making A to Z a natural fit for Ste. Michelle. The future of Pacific Northwest wines – both Oregon and Washington – is bright and we’re excited to introduce new consumers across the country and around the world to the full complement of our region’s outstanding wines.”

Amy Prosenjak, President and CEO of A to Z, will join Ste. Michelle as President of Oregon Brands, overseeing the company’s combined operations in the state. “I’ve long admired Ste. Michelle’s leadership in the Pacific Northwest and their decades-long commitment to promoting the region’s wines,” said Ms. Prosenjak. “Bill Hatcher, who is retiring as Chairman of the Board for A to Z, gave me the great gift of mentorship over the years. With such deep roots, I look forward to joining David and the Ste. Michelle Senior Leadership Team and together raising the bar even higher for Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.”

In addition to Ms. Prosenjak, A to Z Founding Partners Deb Hatcher, Cheryl Francis, and Sam Tannahill will join Ste. Michelle as consultants. A to Z’s Founding Partners started the company 20 years ago and have worked tirelessly to create the highest quality wine for the greatest sustainable value, a goal that remains the company’s guiding principle.

In addition to developing into one of Oregon’s most iconic wineries, A to Z became a certified B Corp in 2014 in recognition of its positive environmental practices. “We could not have found a better partner than Ste. Michelle to carry on the legacy of both A to Z and REX HILL,” said Ms. Hatcher. “They understand the Pacific Northwest better than anyone, and they know what it takes to promote an entire region on the global stage.”

“Ste. Michelle understands quality and production for both small and large wineries,” said Ms.Francis. “We are excited to work with Ste. Michelle to further Oregon’s hard-earned reputation for producing world-class wines.” Added Tannahill, “Ste. Michelle has always taken a long-term view regarding grape-growing and winemaking, including their commitment to sustainability and their support for viticulture and enology research.”

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

About Ste. Michelle Wine Estates

Ste. Michelle Wine Estates is the largest winery in the Pacific Northwest and among the largest premium wineries in the United States. With a distinguished history that dates back to 1934, the winery now farms more than 30,000 acres across Washington, Oregon, and California and distributes its wines in over 100 countries.

Ste. Michelle Wine Estates pioneered vinifera winegrowing in Washington and remains the driving force behind viticulture and enology research in the state, including the establishment of the Washington State University viticulture and enology program and the construction of the university’s research and teaching winery located in Richland, WA., now named the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates WSU Wine Science Center.

Ste. Michelle first entered the Oregon market with the purchase of Erath Winery in 2006. The Ste. Michelle Wine Estates portfolio includes Chateau Ste. Michelle, 14 Hands, Columbia Crest, Erath, A to Z, H3, Liquid Light, Intrinsic, REX HILL, Spring Valley Vineyard, Patz & Hall, and Northstar, along with several other premium brands. The winery also has partnerships with Marchesi Antinori (Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and Col Solare), Ernst Loosen (Eroica), and Michel Gassier (Tenet).

About A to Z Wineworks

A to Z Wineworks captures “The Essence of Oregon” by carefully blending wines true to their variety exclusively sourced from vineyards throughout Oregon’s Western valleys. The company sets the standard for cool climate, food-friendly Oregon Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay. The winery is Oregon’s top-selling brand known for dependable, affordable quality.

About Sycamore Partners

Sycamore Partners is a private equity firm based in New York. The firm specializes in retail, consumer, and distribution-related investments and partners with management teams to improve the operating profitability and strategic value of their business. With approximately $10 billion in aggregate committed capital raised since its inception in 2011, Sycamore Partners’ investors include leading endowments, financial institutions, pension plans and sovereign wealth funds.