Constellation buys Flagstone

27 August, 2008
Page 8 
Constellation Europe has bought iconic South African wine brand Flagstone and its owner, Bruce Jack, has become head of Constellation's South African operation, which includes top brand Kumala.

The teaming up of the voluble Jack with Kumala was first m ooted by Western Wines, Kumala's original owner before it was taken over by Vincor which was , in turn, acquired by Constellation.

The deal is widely regarded as good news, not just for Kumala but for the South African wine category. Both the brand and the category have been flagging and losing share over the past couple of years.

As part of the deal Jack, a viticulturist who has worked in South Australia, Bordeaux and California, and his team are retained and Jack will supervise all Constellation's viticulture and winemaking in South Africa, including Kumala. He will go from overseeing the production of 300,000 cases of wine to more than 2 million.

Jack says he plans to make contact with the farmers in the various co-operatives that supply the fruit for Kumala. As well as improving quality, he wants them to farm ethically and sustainably.

He sees Penfolds, the iconic Australian brand, as the business model for Kumala. Growers who supply the fruit that goes into Penfolds Grange, one of the best-known and most expensive wines in the world, join what is seen as an exclusive club - being a supplier to Grange is regarded as a badge of honour.

Jack said: "Constellation is prepared to step up to the plate and the farmers love their land and are passionate about what they do. We want to unlock that commitment and give them an incentive.

"South Africa has some of the most ancient and different soils. We have a different taste profile and our wines are different - we want to unlock the complexity.

"We want our farmers to farm ethically and sustainably. Maybe that is a long-term goal but we have to think big," Jack added.

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