Mission Hill owner buys Okanagan winery for $12.5m

The owner of Canada’s Mission Hill winery and founder of seltzer brand White Claw, Anthony von Mandl, has bought Liquidity Wines in British Columbia for C$12.5 million.

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As reported by Business in Vancouver, von Mandl has strengthened his foothold in the Canadian wine market, adding to his portfolio of wineries which make up the Iconic Wineries of British Columbia group.

These include Mission Hill Family Estate, CedarCreek Estate Winery, CheckMate Artisinal Winery, Road 13 Vineyards and Martin’s Lane Winery.

Prior to von Mandl’s purchase, Liquidity Wines had 13 investors, the principal among them being CEO Ian Macdonald and partners Dale Shwed and Jim Davidson.

Macdonald told Business in Vancouver that a prior grape buying contract with one of von Mandl’s companies had led to the investment.

He told the publication that he intends to remain working Liquidity Wines and did not expect any “immediate staffing changes”.

Liquidity’s vines are planted on a 30-acre plot, once part of the 110-acre Oliver Ranch, founded by entrepreneur and engineer Charlie Oliver in the 1930s.

In 1991, all non-vinifera vines were uprooted and the site was planted with grapes including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Viognier, Merlot, Riesling and Dornfelder.

Liquidity now produces a range of wines including Charmat and traditional method fizz, single varietal still wines and a red blend called Dividend.

The winery is also home to a bistro restaurant and an art gallery.

Having stepped down as managing director for Lanson UK and North America last year, Paul Beavis has now taken on the role of managing director of the Iconic Wineries of British Columbia, Drinks Retailing News reported. 

There are now over 280 wineries in British Columbia, up from just 17 in 1990, according to the latest figures from Wines of British Columbia. The Canadian province has over 4,249 hectares under vine, covering nine GIs including Okanagan Valley, Similkameen Valley, Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, Thompson Valley, Lillooet, Shuswap and Kootenays.

In May last year, Naramata Bench and Skaha Bench were confirmed as new sub-geographical indications (GIs) of Okanagan Valley. 

The British Columbian wine industry now contributes C$2.8 billion to the local economy and attracts over 1,000,000 visitors each year.

Von Mandl also owns the Mark Anthony Group, which produces and distributes a portfolio of drinks brands and imports a range of wines, beers and spirits.

The company is best known for its White Claw seltzer, introduced in 2016. Last year, the brand predicted that its sales would exceed US$1.5 billion, with Sanjiv Gajiwala, senior vice president of marketing, telling CNN that he predicts the hard seltzer category to be worth between US$2 billion to $2.5 billion, with White Claw having a 60% share of the market.

According to figures released in January 2020, the IWSR said that RTDs contribute US$8 billion to the US alcohol industry, with hard seltzer representing 43% of the category.

The drinks industry analyst revealed that 82.5m nine-litre cases of hard seltzer are sold per year, a figure that is predicted to triple by 2023.

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