Top of the Grape Heap

Constellation Brands CEO Richard Sands talks about the merger that will make his company No. 1 in wine

Just a few years ago, Constellation Brands -- then operating as Canandaigua Brands -- was still associated primarily with mass-market wine labels like Almaden, Inglenook, and Taylor. While those are still an important piece of its business, Constellation has been transformed by a spurt of acquisitions and alliances undertaken by Chairman and CEO Richard Sands, 51, a son of company founder Marvin Sands. These deals have given Constellation a major presence in middle- and upper-tier California wines, such as Ravenswood and Simi, and fast-growing "New World" wines from Southern Hemisphere countries like Chile and South Africa.

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