Move makes Ackley a major player in Washington, marks Gallo’s exit

Seattle-based Ackley Brands has acquired Washington’s Columbia Winery and Hogue Cellars from Gallo. The terms of the sale, which is expected to close April 23rd, were not announced.

“Both these brands are icon, heritage brands,” says Brandon Ackley, founder and president of the family-owned Ackley Brands. “We’re interested in running good culture companies and investing for the long-term.”

The acquisition immediately makes Ackley Brands a major player in Washington. Columbia and Hogue have a combined annual production of 130,000 cases. In 2023, Puget Sound Business Journal listed Columbia as Washington’s 14th largest winery and Hogue as the 17th, though both wineries have decreased production in recent years.

The sale includes all assets of both wineries: the brands, intellectual property, stock, equipment, and facilities. Ackley’s intent is to retain all staff at both Columbia and Hogue. Employees were informed of the purchase today. Ackley plans to grow the brands and also reopen the recently shuttered Columbia wine club.

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Overall, the sale of Columbia and Hogue to Ackley is a best-case scenario for all. The two brands continue on, and ownership is now local. METIS, a Northwest-based mergers and acquisitions company, represented Gallo in the sale.

“We had substantial interest in this opportunity from multiple parties, and it was really important to Gallo to choose somebody who believed in the brands, had a robust plan for the future of the brands, and also wanted to stand by commitments to growers in Washington State,” says Erik McLaughlin, CEO at METIS.

While the sale marks a disappointing end to Gallo’s chapter in Washington, the reality is that Columbia and Hogue were always going to be very small parts of the company’s giant portfolio. Gallo gets some return on its investment and is selling the wineries to an ideal buyer. The success of Columbia and Hogue will be mission critical to Ackley Brands’ business.

Gallo has been making other moves of late. The company made a splash in the luxury wine market in 2023, purchasing Rombauer. Last month, Gallo sold the Wild Horse winery in Paso Robles, though it retains the brand. The company also recently rebranded from E. & J. Gallo to simply Gallo.

This article has been updated. Images courtesy of Ackley Brands

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