B.C.’s fast-growing Joseph Richard Group (JRG), which owns 25 establishments, including pubs, restaurants, liquor stores and the Steveston Hotel, is branching into the winery business by agreeing to an operating agreement with the owners of Glass House Estate Winery, owner Ryan Moreno told Business in Vancouver March 26.
The transaction is one that will provide the company with some vertical integration as products could be sold in the company’s liquor stores and restaurants. Joseph Richard-branded wines may also roll out in future years.
The de Jong family, which is no relation to Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong, planted a vineyard on about 7.5 acres of land seven years ago and built a winery about two years ago. They will still own the land, which is part of a 40-acre parcel, Moreno said.
His arrangement with the family is to operate the winery and provide a percentage of sales to them after a certain threshold is reached.
“They still have some greenhouses,” he said. “We’re taking 7.5 acres of vineyards, which we are planning to expand with them to another 10 acres. There’s the tasting room. There’s also a glass house event space called the conservatory that they are working on licensing.”
Moreno would not discuss how much money changed hands to allow his group to manage the winery but he called the partnership a good fit.
“[They realized that] it would take a lot of work to scale and continue to build the business so they started reaching out a couple years ago, saying that it was a hobby but they saw some potential. We were looking. It’s been over the last year and a half that we’ve been in discussions with them for how it would all work.”
Moreno said that his company is in discussions related to some other transactions and that there could be some other announcements in the pipeline.
JRG has appointed Philippe Renaud as Managing Director for Glass House Estate Winery, responsible for overseeing all operations.
The de Jong family, has a 60-year history in the greenhouse industry, which started in the Netherlands. Ingrid and Arthur de Jong immigrated to Canada in 1983 and they are both still active in the business although they are morphing into retirement, daughter Margrit de Jong told BIV. Her brother-in-law Joe Matos will continue to be involved with the winery in vineyard operations, she added.
Many wineries in B.C. are now run by the children of founders. Burrowing Owl Estate Winery and Summerhill Estate Winery are some examples.
Sometimes wineries may not able to be transferred to the next generation because the property has significant value and the next generation is not able to provide sufficient capital.
—By Glen Korstrom, Business in Vancouver