Just when it looked as if one of California's best-regarded value wines was about to disappear from store shelves, the Seven Peaks brand has been purchased by Boisset America.
The company, a U.S. division of one of France's largest wine producers, bought the brand from Southcorp for an undisclosed sum. No vineyards, inventory or production facilities were included in the deal.
"We have some huge shoes to fill," said Michael De Loach, director of corporate communications for Boisset America. "Southcorp and the Niven family put a lot of effort into the brand."
Seven Peaks was launched with considerable fanfare in 1996 when Australian wine giant Southcorp joined forces with the Nivens family, which owns Paragon Vineyard Co. and Baileyana Winery and co-owns Edna Valley Vineyards with Chalone Wine Group.
While the Seven Peaks wines, which are priced in the $12 to $20 range, often received very good ratings, sales never met expectations. Southcorp -- whose portfolio of brands includes Penfolds, Rosemount and Lindemans -- was facing financial challenges and did not want to invest more resources in building the brand. The Nivens family felt they could not go it alone. The two partners decided to dissolve the venture in January 2003.
The Nivens family owns 1,100 acres of vineyards on the Central Coast and previously supplied about one-third of the grapes for Seven Peaks. They are in negotiations with Boisset America to continue as the brand's key grape source, De Loach said.
About 12,500 cases are expected to be released from the 2003 vintage, including varietal bottlings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Syrah. The Nivens produced the wines at their Central Coast winemaking facility. De Loach said, "It's likely that the production will continue there under our supervision."
Seven Peaks is the second major California brand that Boisset America has purchased in four months. In November, the company paid $17.5 million for De Loach Vineyards, which was mired in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Boisset America also owns a number of other California brands, including Lyeth, William Wheeler, Joliesse and Christophe.
Check our recent ratings of Seven Peaks wines.
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