Tinhorn Creek
Credit: Tinhorn Creek Vineyards

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards

Combined price for Black Hills Estate Winery, Gray Monk Estate Winery and Tinhorn Creek Vineyards will be $95 million

Ontario-headquartered Andrew Peller Ltd. has signed agreements to acquire 100 per cent of Black Hills Estate Winery and Gray Monk Estate Winery and a letter of intent to buy 100 per cent of Tinhorn Creek Vineyards, for a combined price of $95 million. The three Okanagan estate VQA wineries generated total revenue of about $25 million in their latest fiscal years. Andrew Peller will fund the purchase with a combination of $78 million in cash from the company’s credit lines and $17 million worth of Class A common shares. It expects to close all of the transactions by or before the end of October.

In a release, Andrew Peller president Randy Powell said that there is a significant opportunity for growth in the Okanagan wine region. “Canadian consumers are becoming more and more interested in super and ultra-premium wines, and these are some of the greatest brands in the country,” Powell said. “They complement our Western Canada VQA portfolio well and will significantly strengthen our presence in the region.”

With wineries in B.C., Ontario, and Nova Scotia, Andrew Peller markets wines produced from grapes grown in Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula, B.C.’s Okanagan and Similkameen valleys, and from vineyards around the world.

“My first reaction was 'Wow!'" comments veteran Okanagan winemaker Harry McWatters. "The whole industry is going, 'Wow!'" McWatters isn't shocked that any one winery was sold but that Peller bought all three and announced it all on one day—"and that’s the wow. This is a big, big deal. It’s a game changer for the industry."

For McWatters, who notes that Peller has a strong commitment to the Canadian wine industry, this kind of investment in the Okanagan shows how firmly the company believes in Western Canada. "They now have wineries in basically every area of the Okanagan Valley and some wonderful brands," he explains. "I just don’t see any downside to anything that happened here today."

On the other hand, it did steal the thunder from today's announcement of a partnership between McWatters's Time Winery in Penticton and Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corp. and South by Southwest Wine Imports of Calgary to offer exclusive Okanagan wine to Calgary Flames fans while supporting the Calgary Flames Foundation. "I’m wishing we had sent out our press release on Friday," McWatters says with a rueful laugh. "The Flames actually let this go Friday because the sports media pick up stuff on weekends, and we opted to wait until today because the wine media would have ignored us on the weekend." 

Time will be the official wine supplier of the Flames, and its Go Time Calgary Flames Pinot Gris and Go Time Calgary Flames Cabernet Merlot ($19.99 SRP each) will be the wines of choice at licensed venues in the Scotiabank Saddledome, home of the National Hockey League franchise. The Flames wine will also be sold at local retailers in Calgary. 

McWatters describes it as a really big deal and a game changer for the winery, which launched modestly in Alberta in February. "This gives us an opportunity to really make our mark, and it has a significant volume that is going to take care of a lot of overheads for us in our new venture right off the bat," he says.