Grape Growers of Ontario "cautiously optimistic" following Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan investment


St. Catharines, ON (October 17, 2016) - Today’s announcement that the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan has won what was reported to have been a hotly contested auction for Constellation Brand’s Canadian wine business “sends a very positive signal that the Canadian wine industry is ready and well-positioned for expansion,” said Grape Growers of Ontario CEO Debbie Zimmerman.

According to the Wall Street Journal, many potential foreign and domestic bidders were interested in participating in Constellation’s auction process. 

“The fact the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is a well-financed, domestic, long-term investor with industry experience and no competing business interests leaves us hopeful that their plan for profit growth will come from expansion rather than international or domestic consolidation,” Zimmerman added. 

“Constellation Brands has been a valuable player / partner for our growers.  While it’s far too early to know the exact market and public policy implications of this sale, there is no doubt that the sale of a business that so dominates the Canadian wine market is likely to have significant impacts on the industry as a whole,” said Chair of the Grape Growers of Ontario Board of Directors, Matthias Oppenlaender.

“While we are cautiously optimistic this is a growth opportunity, we will be watching and listening carefully,” Oppenlaender added.   “We look forward to learning about the new owner’s business plans and to working constructively with them to build on the continued success of Ontario’s grape and wine industry.”

Grape Growers of Ontario is recognized under Ontario’s Farm Products Marketing Act as the official organization that represents over 500 grape growers of 17,000 acres of vineyards in Ontario, Canada who produce grapes for processing. Ontario’s grape and wine industry employs more than 14,000 people and contributes $3.3 billion each year to the provincial economy and $6.8 billion each year nationally. (Source: 2013 Report, Canada’s Wine Economy-Ripe Robust Remarkable).

Through legislation, the Grape Growers of Ontario (GGO) negotiates and ensures a minimum price for processing grapes in Ontario.  The GGO is also responsible for researching new technologies and working with government to develop programs and policies that support all processing grape growers in the province, including more than 170 wineries.  About 97% of our grape production goes into commercial winemaking, and about 3% is used by manufacturers for juice, jams and other grape products.