Lehman Brothers Collection - Contemporary Business Archives

Harvard Business School Baker Library Historical Collections

Lehman Brothers Collection

Twentieth-Century Business Archives

Almaden Vineyards, Inc. - Lehman Brothers Collection

Almaden Vineyards, Inc.

List of Deals

Almaden Vineyards was incorporated in Delaware in 1967 to acquire the business of a corporation bearing the same name. However, the origins of the business date to 1852 when a Frenchman named Etienne Thee planted vineyards in California with vines from his home in Bordeaux, France. Thee's son-in-law, Charles LeFranc, established a winery at Los Gatos, California, in 1876 and continued to develop the vineyards, helping bring national and international attention to their wine.

The company remained in control of the family until 1951, when Almaden merged with Madrone Vineyards, owned by Lucky Lager. Later that year, the LeFranc Corporation, Almaden's original owner, regained full control of the winery.

In 1960 Almaden acquired Frederick Wildman & Sons, a New York importer and distributor of foreign wines and spirits. National Distributors purchased a large interest in Almaden in 1967 and continued to steadily increase its interest until in 1977 it purchased 100 percent of the company.

National Distributors decided to exit the liquor and wine business in 1987 and sold Almaden to Heublein for $128 million. Heublein then moved the packaging of all Almaden wines to its Mission Bell Winery in Madera, California.

In 1994 Canandaigua Wine Company, the second-largest wine producer in the United States, purchased Almaden from Heublein in a deal that also included several other Heublein subsidiaries such as Inglenook and some small wineries in California. The total deal was valued at between $175 million to $200 million.

In 2001 the name of Canandaigua Wine Company was changed to Constellation Brands. It is the second-largest wine producer in the world, after E & J Gallo Winery.

Harvard Business School Harvard Business School Baker Library Histrorical Collections