Three of the wine industry's leading families -- Rothschild, Drouhin and Torres -- announced yesterday that they will combine their experience and pedigree to form a new sales and marketing company that aims to fortify their presence in the American marketplace.
At a press conference announcing the merger, the heads of the three partners -- Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, owner of Château Mouton-Rothschild in Bordeaux; Robert Drouhin, chairman of Maison Joseph Drouhin in Burgundy; and Miguel Torres, chairman of Torres Wines in Spain -- each stressed the new company's emphasis on the family business model. "We believe strongly that the future of fine wine will rely on family-owned companies," Torres said.
Even the finest wine producers face difficulty when competing against large conglomerates, Drouhin said. "Reputation used to be built slowly, over many decades," he said. "Now distributors have become giants with large portfolios. And consumers have become less loyal and faithful, and influenced more by brand[ing] and marketing."
The partnership, which they plan to name the Vintners Alliance, will effectively combine the American importing and marketing operations of the Rothschild and Drouhin families and add the Torres portfolio. They will also retain other brands represented by their former companies (Caravelle Wine Selections under Rothschild and Dreyfus, Ashby & Co., co-owned by Drouhin and Champagne Bollinger), such as Giesen in New Zealand, Langlois-Chateau in the Loire Valley and Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé in Burgundy.
Vintners Alliance will consider working with other family-owned wineries with similar values. "It's my dream that other families will follow into the business," said Rothschild. "The family is a great asset."
The partnering families hope to finalize their company, which will be based in New York, by January 2005. It will be headed by Tim Enos, former president of Dreyfus, Ashby & Co.