Golfer Mike Weir and broadcaster Bob McCown, two of the best-known names in Canadian sports, are in a court battle over Mike Weir Wine Inc., a failed winery.
Mr. McCown, who hosts the afternoon drive-time radio show Prime Time Sports in Toronto, owns the winery – and the winery owes Mr. Weir $2.2-million.
On Jan. 30, an Ontario Superior Court of Justice order from Justice Glenn Hainey put the winery into receivership under the oversight of BDO Canada Ltd. Mr. Weir had made the application for the order.
According to court documents, the winery also owes $4.3-million to Royal Bank of Canada.
Mr. McCown, 66, made forays into the wine business in 2013, when he bought Stoney Ridge Estate Winery in Vineland, Ont., one of the province’s oldest wineries, and a 15-per-cent stake in Mike Weir Wine in Beamsville, Ont. He bought full control of Mike Weir Wine in 2017.
Mr. McCown, in a Globe and Mail profile in 2015, said he had brought brand savvy to Stoney Ridge. (The broadcaster rarely drinks and has an allergy to red wine.) He said the wine business is “run by a bunch of farmers and wine growers who don’t know [anything] about marketing. They have no concept of how a business really runs.”
He said Stoney Ridge was having success at the LCBO.
“I thought if you bring a little level of sophistication to this thing, if I can use my contacts, maybe we can change it,” Mr. McCown said in 2015. “In 18 months, boy, we’ve changed it and we’re barely started.”
Among Stoney Ridge’s products is a wine branded as “Doug Gilmour Bin 93” – named after the former Toronto Maple Leafs’ captain. Mr. Gilmour’s nickname was “Killer” and Stoney Ridge sells a “Killer Fanatic” two-pack, featuring bottles of red and white wine and an autographed hockey puck for $115. Stoney Ridge also sells vintages endorsed by the band the Tragically Hip such as the 2017 Ahead by a Century Chardonnay.
At Mike Weir Wine, the winery issued three promissory notes to Mr. Weir on Oct. 20, 2017, that it was to pay back a year later. But court documents allege the winery failed to repay what now amounts to about $2.2-million – some of which is secured against the winery and its physical assets.
Some of the debt was to be forgiven if the winery was sold by the time repayment was due on the notes and the secured notes were repaid in full.
The winery had been put up for sale in October, 2017, for $10.9-million. Its retail outlet closed last spring. The sale price was dropped to $8.9-million and then cut again to $7.5-million.
After Mr. Weir made the application to put the winery into receivership – so that it could be sold ahead of the spring growing season – Mr. McCown requested a brief adjournment to allow for the negotiation and closing of a sale to a potential purchaser of the winery for more than $7-million, according to court documents.
Mr. McCown said the claim that the winery is in danger and needs a receiver to protect it “is incorrect.”
A call to Mr. McCown late on Monday was not immediately returned. A call and e-mail to to Mr. Weir’s lawyer were also not immediately returned.
With a report from The Canadian Press