In an exclusive interview with Shanken News Daily, F. Korbel & Bros. president and owner Gary Heck and Banfi Vintners COO Marc Goodrich confirmed that Banfi has signed a letter of intent to acquire Sonoma County-based Kenwood Vineyards from Korbel.
“We have an agreement in principle to purchase Kenwood, subject to getting through the due diligence,” said Goodrich, “with a closing scheduled for June.”
Kenwood, founded in 1970, makes wines priced from $9 to $70, from 22 acres of estate vineyards, as well as from other fruit sourced from throughout Sonoma County. Among its best-known wines are its Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon and its Sauvignon Blanc. The deal would include Kenwood’s estate, winery, vineyards and all other assets. Banfi plans to integrate the Kenwood sales team into the Banfi organization, placing the brand into the same portfolio as Riunite, Castello Banfi, Bolla and the other brands in Banfi’s stable. The purchase price was not disclosed.
If completed, the acquisition will mark Banfi’s first foray into California, following its entry into the U.S. domestic wine business in December 2010, when Banfi’s owners, the Mariani family, purchased Pacific Rim Winemakers, a Washington state Riesling brand. “We’ve been looking at California for quite some time and have explored a number of opportunities,” Goodrich said. “Kenwood was an ideal fit. It’s at over 500,000 cases, which is significant—certainly for a brand from Sonoma. And it’s always had a great reputation.”
F. Korbel & Bros retains a portfolio that includes Korbel sparkling wine and California brandy, as well as Valley of the Moon, Lake Sonoma and other smaller labels. Heck plans to focus his efforts on the Korbel brand. “After its worst recession in 70 years, the California wine industry has emerged in pretty good shape, so I thought this was a good time to explore the sale of Kenwood,” said Heck.
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