The origins of this U.S. beverage giant, headquartered in Fairport, New York State, date back to 1945, when Marvin Sands (1926-1999) founded "Canandaigua Industries Co" with eight employees in the city of Canandaigua near the Finger Lakes area. He had learned winemaking from father Mack Sands at his Car-Cal Winery in North Carolina. Marvin's goal was to produce inexpensive bulk wine. In 1972 the company was renamed the Canandaigua Wine Company and in 1974 the Bisceglia Brothers Winery in Madera, California was purchased. In the 1980s the company was extremely successful with Coolers.
Through continuous acquisitions of wineries, wineries, beer and spirit brands and companies, Constellation Brands has developed into one of the world's largest wine companies. These were 1974 Bisceglia Brothers Winery, 1982 Batavia Wine Cellars, 1987 Manischewitz and Widmer's Wine Cellars, 1991 Guild Wineries (with Dunnewood and Cook's), 1993 Vintners International (with Paul Masson and Taylor California Cellars), 1994 Almaden Vineyards and the Inglenook brand, 1998 Arbor Mist, 1999 Franciscan and Simi Winery, 2003 the Australian Multi Hardy Wine Company, 2004 the Californian Mondavi Winery and 2006 the Canadian Multi Vincor International. The Almaden Vineyards, Paul Masson and Inglenook wineries were sold to the Wine Group in 2008.
In 1997 the name was changed to Canandaigua Brands Inc. In order to distinguish itself from City/Lake and also because of the "unpronounceability" of the old name, it was changed to Centerra Wine Company in 2003. Within the Constellation Brands holding company, created in 2000, it still functions today as the sales and marketing organisation for certain wine brands. With the purchase of the "Beam Wine Estates" from the US group Fortune Brands at the end of 2007, a restructuring took place. The huge wine portfolio is now managed in the following three divisions:
The Centerra Wine Company division, headed by Tim Richenberg, is responsible for specialties, varietals (varietal wines) and value brands (inexpensive quality wines). These include Arbor Mist, Cook's and Manischewitz. The Vintas division, headed by Chris Fehrnstrom, is responsible for the Premiums and Superpremiums. These include Blackstone, Buena Vista Winery, Clos du Bois, Leasingham, Ravenswood and Woodbridge. The Icon Estates division, headed by Eric Morham, includes the ultra-premium and luxury brands. These include Kim Crawford, Estancia Estates, Franciscan, Nobilo, Mondavi, Opus One, Simi, Ruffino, Veramonte and Wild Horse.
In January 2011 Constellation Brands sold 80% of its subsidiaries "Constellation Wines Australia" (formerly Hardy Wine Company) and "Constellation Wines Europe" to the Australian company CHAMP. The deal was estimated at around AU$290 million (€212 million) and included all British, Australian and South African brands, wineries and vineyards as well as a 50% stake in the British wine trading company Matthew Clark (drinks wholesaler). It holds a 20% stake in this wine multinational, which was renamed Accolade Wines in June 2011. Around 7,500 employees worldwide work under the company slogan "Please Enjoy Our Products Responsibly". The turnover in 2007 was 5.2 billion US dollars. The company is led by President & CEO U.S. Jose Fernandez, Chairman & CEO Richard Sands and Chairman & COO Robert Sands.