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Mendocino Cooperage to Close

Hopland, CA, December 3, 2004 — Brown-Forman Corporation announced today that it is closing its Mendocino Cooperage in Hopland, California. Mendocino Cooperage, which makes and sells wine barrels to California wineries, will stop taking orders December 31 but will continue to operate until all existing orders are filled. It is anticipated that the facility will cease production by early March, 2005.

Bill Coleman, president of Brown-Forman Cooperages, said the decision was not an easy one. “We’ve tried for several years to find the right business model to put Mendocino Cooperage on a profitable footing,” said Coleman. “But recent changes in the California wine industry, especially the move by many wineries to use barrel alternatives, such as oak staves, rather than aging wine in oak barrels to achieve their desired taste profile, prompted us to make the difficult decision to close Mendocino Cooperage.”

Twenty-two employees will be laid off as a result of the closing, including 15 hourly and seven salaried people. The layoffs will be spread out over the next three-to-four months, as orders for barrels are filled. All affected employees will be offered severance packages and assistance in identifying new employment opportunities. “We thank all of our employees for their hard work and dedication over the last several years,” Coleman said.

Brown-Forman’s Blue Grass Cooperage, based in Louisville, Kentucky, which makes whiskey barrels for Brown-Forman’s Jack Daniel’s, Woodford Reserve, Canadian Mist, Early Times, and Old Forester whiskeys, as well as for competitors, is not affected by the closing of the Mendocino Cooperage.

Brown-Forman Corporation is a diversified producer and marketer of fine quality consumer products, including Jack Daniel’s, Southern Comfort, Finlandia Vodka, Canadian Mist, Fetzer and Bolla Wines, Korbel California Champagnes, Lenox, Dansk, and Gorham tableware and giftware and Hartmann Luggage.