I became an honorary Gin Rectifier last night (May 9). I took an oath and now I am duty bound to promote the best interests of gin.
Constellation paid approximately €50 million ($69 million) for the stake and is also to assume €55 million ($73 million) of debt as part of the transaction.
Constellation now fully owns the Ruffino brand and its production facility near Florence. The wines are produced from grapes grown on 600 hectares of Tuscan vineyards.
Rob Sands, president and chief executive officer, Constellation Brands said: "The prestigious Ruffino brand, which dates back to 1877, is an internationally recognized Old World wine brand that sets the standard for Italian wines.”
Adolfo Folonari, the outgoing managing director of Ruffino, who will remain with Ruffino as a board member, said: "Constellation has a history of evolving iconic wines, such as the Robert Mondavi brand, and nurturing them to their full potential.
"I am confident that Constellation will leverage its global best practices to take the Ruffino brand to an entirely new level, while carefully preserving the heritage of the wines."
Ruffino’s brands include Ruffino Riserva Ducale which is celebrating its 80th anniversary vintage this year, Riserva Ducale Gold, Il Ducale, Chianti Superiore, Lumina and Modus.
According to a statement from the company, Ruffino's year-to-date global sales are growing at nine percent and its most recent launches include Ruffino Prosecco sparkling wine.
Constellation has also named Sandro Sartor as general manager of Ruffino, effective November 1, 2011. Sartor will be responsible for running the day-to-day operations of the Ruffino business and will report to Greg Fowler, Constellation's senior vice president, operations. Most recently, Sartor served as managing director and general manager for Diageo Italia.
Constellation's equity interest in Ruffino began in 2004 with a 40% stake in the company and increased to 49.9% in 2010. Since then, the Ruffino brand has become one of Constellation's 19 "focus brands" which represent the majority of profit for the company's US wine and spirits business.
Ruffino annually produces 1.3 million cases and approximately 50% of its sales are currently made by Constellation in the US.