Wine Culture Magazine

Fawcett shifts into retirement, and some consulting

Glenn Fawcett created a limited partnership that bought Black Hills Estate Winery for $11.3 million in 2007 | Rob Kruyt

The man who built Black Hills Estate Winery and elevated one of B.C.’s first ultra-premium wines has shifted into a retirement that will include some consulting work.

Glenn Fawcett is known in B.C.’s wine sector for his marketing savvy, which enabled him being able to drum up enough interest to sell thousands of cases of his winery’s pricy Nota Bene wine in less than an hour.

The Nota Bene, along with Osoyoos Larose’s Le Grand Vin and Mission Hill Estate Winery’s Oculus, were three of the first super-premium wines in the province. Nota Bene bottles sell for about $70.

Fawcett formed a limited partnership that bought the then-11-year-old Black Hills in 2007 for $11.3 million from two founding couples – Senka and Bob Tennant, and Susan and Peter McCarrell.

He had been marketing wine tours for the non-profit, wine-purchasing co-operative Opimian Society, which he called a “hobby business.”  He listened to countless wine tourists who told him that they would love to own a winery but they thought it would take too much work and they did not want to lose their life savings if the venture flopped.

Bingo, he thought. Why not create a vehicle to allow hundreds of shareholders to buy Black Hills?

His limited partnership included 360 individuals who owned 456 units when Andrew Peller Limited (TSX:ADW-A) bought Black Hills Estate Winery for $31 million in cash in 2017. That transaction happened simultaneously with Peller also buying Tinhorn Creek Vineyards and Grey Monk Estate Winery. While each of the deals were separate, Peller pinned the cost of buying all three of those wineries at $95 million.

As part of the transaction, Fawcett agreed to stay on as president for another two years. In 2019, he shifted to become the chief wine evangelist at Black Hills, while a new corporate structure took hold. He holds the honourary title of wine evangelist emeritus at Black Hills, which is not a paid position but enables him to attend some Nota Bene tastings and to be what he calls a “goodwill ambassador.”

Fawcett’s May 1 departure has enabled him to take on some consulting work for Stoneboat Vineyards, and the start-up Valley Commons, which is in the District Wine Village, which is a site in Oliver that houses 13 wineries.

He told BIV that he and his wife Kym plan to do more travelling to wine regions around the world.

Fawcett is on a Destination British Columbia advisory committee, and said that he hopes to be involved in other organizations to help promote the Okanagan Valley.

“I love the wine industry and the Okanagan Valley, so I’m hoping I can do more of that in the future,” he said.

—This story by Glen Korstrom originally appeared on Business in Vancouver

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