In a development that set the world of wine on its collective heels, wine writer, blogger and artisan production advocate Alice Feiring announced over the weekend that she had purchased Constellation Brands, the world's largest wine company, lock, stock and barrels.
The author of The Battle for Wine and Love: or How I Saved the World from Parkerization said she was able to acquire the 95-milion case international wine conglomerate with the proceeds from her book and the speaking tour that followed. (Her book remains more popular at Amazon.com than the latest edition of Robert M. Parker's Wine Buyer's Guide.) The purchase price was not announced, but Feiring indicated that "Tim Geithner would understand."
"This seemed like the least I could do," Feiring said, "if I want to put my money where my mouth constantly is. Constellation is the very symbol of corporate winemaking, shameless manipulation, the reduction of a magical, soulful treasure to a mere mass-consumption beverage. If you hate homogenized wine, you have to like my move. Plus, by putting it on my credit card, I have enough frequent flyer miles stashed away to visit every great vineyard in the world."
Feiring is still mulling over options on the future of Constellation’s vast holdings, multiple brands, and far-flung properties. "I thought about just shutting the sucker down," she said, which would have meant a huge financial loss but a "sweet" tax break. "I will at least personally supervise the demolition of the facilities that produce Mega-Purple," she noted, referring to a Constellation wine concentrate product used behind the scenes to enhance color in many commercial wines. Another possibility would be to break Constellation up into numerous small wineries--50,000 operations at 2,000 cases per winery might be a ballpark estimate--and hand them out to budding winemakers who promise to follow the natural path, swear off reverse osmosis, never send samples to Parker, and avoid the use of electricity or indoor plumbing in their new facilities.
Jose Fernandez, President and CEO of Constellation Wines U.S., did not return calls.
Rumors are also circulating that Feiring is in negotiations to purchase all or part of Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, infusing new capital in the enormously influential publication in exchange for the opportunity to insert her own comments on his comments for each wine he reviews. Meanwhile, it was disclosed that Fehring has purchased the server farm that hosts eRopertParker.com, the web incarnation of and bulletin board for all things Parker, which means she can literally pull the plug on her nemesis if discussions of a future role with The Wine Advocate go badly.