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From: lewis.perdue@wineindustryinsight.com

Subject: Ascentia Winds Up Today

Date: 2012-05-31 15:12:12

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BREAKING NEWS

Ascentia Wine Estates To Close Today

May 31, 2012

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Ascentia Goes Out of Business

As previously reported by Wine Industry Insight (see May 2 article below), Ascentia Wine Estates is no longer in the wine business as of the end of today when most sales of its properties are supposed to close.

CEO Jim DeBonis -- after denying for months that any part of the company was for sale -- told employees today that this was their last day. He also told them that they should all come back to the offices on Monday to see if they had a job with any of the purchasers of the winery properties.

More as it becomes available at: Wine Industry Insight

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May 2: Geyser Peak Sale Pending, Ascentia's Demise Close

Like an old Saturday Night Live sketch ("Generalissimo Francisco Franco is Still Dead") Ascentia Wine Estates has been twisting slowly in the financial wind for more than two years.

But that looks to be over in the next month if due diligence goes smoothly for buyers who have committed to take most -- or all -- of the company's assets. As Wine Industry Insight reported in March ("Ascentia Debt Crisis Lurching Closer to Resolution"), Ascentia has been insolvent for more than a year and under pressure from its major investors to sell the properties. Those investors include GESD Capital Partners, a private equity company and Entertainment Properties Trust (NYSE: EPR). EPR has said that divesting itself of its Ascentia holdings represents "[P]art of our strategic exit from that business." See "Wineries & Vineyards: Entertainment Properties Trust's $81 million Debacle" for a more complete look at the reasons for EPR's retreat from the wine business.

BACKGROUND

Ascentia acquired eight orphan Constellation Brands in June of 2008 as part of the $208,770,900 million deal that created AWE.

In that deal, all of AWE's land and wineries were acquired for $115 million by SBV VinREIT, an LLC operated by Kansas-City-based, Entertainment Properties Trust (NYSE:EPR). All the wineries and vineyards were then leased back to Ascentia. In Sonoma County, Ascentia owns Geyser Peak, XYZin and in Napa Valley, Atlas Peak. Covey Run and Columbia wineries in Washington are part of the portfolio as is Ste. Chapelle in Idaho. Ascentia previously sold Healdsburg's Gary Farrell and the historic Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma Valley. Buena Vista Carneros was repossessed by EPR in 2010.

OFFER MADE FOR GEYSER PEAK, DUE DILIGENCE UNDERWAY New information uncovered about the imminent piecemeal sale of Ascentia properties is available for premium subscribers to Wine Executive News. Wine Executive News subscribers please click here to read the complete article.

PREVIOUS WINE INDUSTRY INSIGHT COVERAGE OF ASCENTIA

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================= CONTACT DATA ====================
Lewis Perdue
670 W. Napa St., Suite H, Sonoma, CA 95476
Phone: 707-326-4503, fax: 707-940-4146
Email: lewis.perdue@wineindustryinsight.com