Self-retailing Niagara winery businesses merging

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Niagara wine producer and retailer Kittling Ridge’s operations are being pressed into those of Ontario’s third-largest winery.

Vaughan, Ont.-based Magnotta Winery Corp. announced Tuesday it has bought Kittling Ridge’s wine assets, including its wine listings and grape grower agreements, for an undisclosed sum.

The deal also includes Kittling Ridge’s retail store licenses, giving Magnotta six boutique outlets in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), on top of the seven stores it already operates in Ontario.

The Kittling Ridge boutiques are set up within supermarkets, including Superstore in Toronto, North York and London, No Frills in Richmond Hill, Zehrs in Barrie and a Sobeys store in Toronto.

"Opening new retail locations in Ontario’s regulated wine industry is only possible through the acquisition of existing licenses," Magnotta CEO Rossana Magnotta said in a release. "This purchase allows us to add new stores to our chain and build on our over 20-year retail success while evolving the Kittling Ridge brand."

The province’s Alcohol and Gaming Commission (AGCO) has already approved the deal, Magnotta noted Tuesday.

While Kittling Ridge’s stores will be rebranded with the Magnotta banner "over the next few years," the Kittling Ridge wine brand will continue as part of Magnotta’s portfolio, including Kittling Ridge’s Icewine and Brandy and Vidal Icewine products.

Kittling Ridge products will still be distributed through Ontario’s LCBO and other liquor boards across Canada, as well as in export markets, Magnotta said.

"We are also very excited to be working with the additional Ontario grape growers that are now part of our roster as a result of the deal, and supporting the agricultural growth of the province," Magnotta said.

"These relationships will play a key role in our success as we process more grapes and expand our 100 per cent Ontario VQA product line."

While Magnotta’s head office, winery, distillery and microbrewery are based at Vaughan, north of Toronto, the company operates 180 acres of vineyards in the Niagara region, plus over 351 acres in Chile’s Maipo Valley.