The Shifting of Sandbanks

I recently read an article announcing that the Sandbanks Winery, one of the first in Prince Edward County, has been sold to Arterra.  Catherine Langlois had operated the winery since its inception in 2001.  Over the years Sandbanks has become most famous for its Baco Noir, Marechal Foch, and Riesling. Over the years there have been some other wonderful creations, such as the one time offering of a bold red that was a personal favourite, which I believe was called Bin 41.

Since inception Sandbanks Winery has proven to be a great place to visit and sample their award-winning wines. I have always found their staff to be knowledgeable and friendly.  The uniqueness of their wine even included the labels, which were designed by a family friend.

It is not surprising that Sandbanks had received such attention by Arterra, given Sandbank’s dominance in Prince Edward Country.

According to the press release, by joining Arterra, Sandbanks will now have the resources and expertise to further enhance the winery’s capabilities.

So Who is Arterra?

Arterra Wines Canada has grown and evolved to owning and distributing 100+ wine brands, including seven of the top 20 brands in Canada. Its Canadian headquarters is in Mississauga, Ontario.   Arterra Wines Canada operates eight wineries and over 1,700 acres of premium vineyards in Canada’s wine regions.

It also owns and operates Wine Rack retail wine stores in Ontario and sells wine kits and products for winemaking through its RJS Craft Winemaking brand. It employs approximately 2,000 full-time and part-time staff across the country.

Arterra has been making wines in Niagara and the Okanagan for the past 150 years.  According to their web site, Arterra Wines Canada has been a pioneer in the Canadian wine industry with their origins dating back to 1874 when the Niagara Falls Wine Company was founded. One hundred twenty years later, they became known as Vincor International. Throughout the 20th century, wineries like Jackson-Triggs and NK’Mip were founded and acquired.  Also purchased were New Zealand’s Kim Crawford.

In 2006, they were acquired by Constellation Brands, a U.S.-based company that is a leading international producer and marketer of beer, wine and spirits. In 2016, the Canadian branch of Constellation Brands was acquired by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, and Arterra Wines Canada was born.

In addition to the most recent acquisition of Sandbanks, and the wineries mentioned above, Arterra controls Inniskillen, and Le Clos Jordanne.  Internationally, they have Sawmill Creek, Bodacious, Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi, Ruffino, Naked Grape, BÙ By Jessica Harno, and Wallaroo Trail.

According to Arterra, Catherine will continue to drive the Sandbanks brand for years to come.  Hopefully that will be the case.  Even if Catherine remains at the helm it will be interesting to see what direction the winery heads in now.

Whether there will be an impact on the smaller privately run wineries in the region remains to be seen.  My guess however, is that impact, if any, will be minimal as most of these wineries are not marketing their products nationally or internationally.  In fact, the sale may prove good for their businesses as people touring wineries often want to visit the grassroots operations, not the perceived big conglomerates where there is at least a perception of being impersonal.

We will have to wait and see what is now in store for Sandbanks for 2020 and beyond.  I, for one, truly enjoy their wines and hope they remain top notch for years to come.

Sláinte mhaith

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