Wilderness Trail co-founder says Campari acquisition is a win-win

Published 7:50 am Monday, November 7, 2022



On Monday it was announced that Italian company Campari has purchased a 70 percent stake in Wilderness Trail Distillery with an agreement to purchase the remaining 30 percent in 2031. Wilderness Trail co-founder Shane Baker is confident that the partnership will benefit the Wilderness Trail brand and the community.

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“This is huge for Wilderness Trail and our family of employees,” Baker said. “Wilderness Trail has been growing leaps and bounds over the years, and we found ourselves with an opportunity to grow our brand further into an iconic brand known around the world. We know how to make excellent whiskey, and now with the expertise of sales and marketing and distribution with Campari, we believe we can grow the brand a lot more rapidly and solidify Wilderness Trail Bourbon in Kentucky history for a long time to come.”

Baker said that he and his fellow co-founder, Pat Heist, were in the process of creating a new long-term business plan when initial talks began.

“The partnership really developed rapidly over the past several months and continued to materialize into the partnership we have created now,” Baker said, “Wilderness Trail was working on our new 10-20-year business plan, and part of that is the finance plan for that next phase of growth. We are a family owned and operated business and we have been able to grow the business within our original 10-year plan. As we saw the opportunity to become an iconic brand known around the world, we had a simple question: Do we want 100% of the grape, or 50% of the watermelon? Ironically, we were having lunch at that time, but it helped us look beyond and recognize with a strong partner like the Campari Group, we could make the journey happen.”

The acquisition will not affect staffing at the distillery and it will continue to have a presence in the local community, Baker said.

“The only changes our fans can expect is being able to find it a lot more easily as our partnership brings expanded distribution to Wilderness Trail,” Baker said, “Pat and I remain (minority) owners in the brand, active in the operations and within our community. We have our FurBall coming up supporting one of my favorite charities our local Humane Society. We will continue to do everything we have been doing, and our focus is on growing the brand and bringing more awareness to it on a global basis, and every chance we get highlight how wonderful of a community Danville is.”