As Conglomerates Look Beyond Fashion, Wine is Trending

Until relatively recently, the prevailing trend in luxury fashion acquisitions was suppliers. Chanel bought out the lamb hide tannery that has long been providing it with leather. LVMH acquired Heng Long, a crocodile tanning company. And Hermès, not be outdone, started breeding its own crocodiles several years ago. Now that the top luxury houses and conglomerates have their supply chains on lock, they have turned their attention to food and drink.

Prada acquired, revamped and reopened (just in time for the Milan Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2016 collections) Pasticceria Marchesi, one of Milan's most iconic cafes. Close by sits the LVMH-owned Caffe Cova, which the Paris-based conglomerate purchased last year. And now, Chanel, whose owners collect high-end Bordeaux wineries, is entering the U.S. wine business with the purchase of a Napa Valley winery. Chanel joins LVMH, which has a significant Wine and Spirits division, as well as a number of other brands, in investing in wine.

As you may know, LVMH acquired the Clos des Lambrays Burgundy vineyard in April 2014, one of the relatively recent developments in a consistent string of investments in various wine companies for a few decades now, including Chateau Cheval Blanc and Chateau d’Yquem, as part of its Estates & Wines division, which was formed after the company merged with champagne giant Moët Hennessy in 1987. As a result of the merger, LVMH acquired a dozen major brands, including Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Dom Pérignon and Krug, as well as Hennessy cognac and Chateau d’Yquem.

Even more recently, LVMH has expanded its spirits division by way a partnership with Ann Colgin and Joe Wender, the founders of Colgin Cellars in California's Napa Valley. LVMH will acquire a 60 percent stake, while Colgin and Wender will continue to hold 40 percent equity in the business and maintain their leadership functions. 

Salvatore Ferragamo and Roberto Cavalli both maintain financial stakes in vineyards producing wine for retail. Lastly, in 2013, Artemis SA, the Pinault family holding company that controls luxury conglomerate Kering (parent to Balenciaga, Gucci, Saint Laurent, etc.) bought into the Araujo Estate Wines in Napa Valley, adding it to the roster of vineyards it owns, including Château Latour in Bordeaux, Domaine d'Eugénie in Burgundy and Château Grillet in the Rhône Valley.

You move, Hermès ...