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Exclusive: Rombauer Vineyards Buys Renwood's Winery in Amador County

Napa Chardonnay specialist expands its foothold in the Sierra Foothills and plans to move Zinfandel production to the facility
The new winery will provide a home for Rombauer's Zinfandels, such as its bottling from the El Dorado vineyard in the Sierra Foothills.
Photo by: Courtesy Rombauer Vineyards
The new winery will provide a home for Rombauer's Zinfandels, such as its bottling from the El Dorado vineyard in the Sierra Foothills.

Augustus Weed
Posted: January 24, 2019

Napa-based Chardonnay specialist Rombauer Vineyards is staking a claim in California's Gold Country. Wine Spectator has learned that the family-owned wine company has purchased the 65,000-square-foot Renwood winery in Amador County from Ren Acquisitions, Inc., an Argentine investment group whose owners include billionaire vintner Alejandro Bulgheroni and winemaking veteran Carlos Pulenta of Vistalba.

The sale includes the winery, a 20-acre estate vineyard planted mostly to Zinfandel, and a tasting room, but it does not include the Renwood brand. Rombauer will move production of its Zinfandel to the facility, which will reopen in April. The sale price was not disclosed.

Rombauer had been looking to increase its production capacity and approached Ren Acquisitions to buy the winery. "The demand for our Zinfandel is continuing to grow at a pace that really required us to do something in terms of capacity in the near-term," Rombauer president Bob Knebel told Wine Spectator. Known for its fruit-forward and creamy Chardonnays, the winery has been developing its red wine program in recent years and produces five Zinfandels from the Sierra Foothills and Napa Valley. Rombauer currently produces 300,000 cases of wine a year.

"My dad loved the Sierra Foothills and always envisioned Rombauer crafting more wine from this unique and special area," said second-generation proprietor Koerner "KR" Rombauer III, in a statement. His father, who died in 2018, attempted to buy the Renwood property eight years ago, but missed his chance when Ren Acquisitions purchased it.

Founded by Robert Smerling in 1993, Renwood is one of the largest producers in the Sierra Foothills, known for its Zinfandel, Barbera and Syrah. The company filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009, and Ren Acquisitions bought it in 2011 for nearly $7 million.

In a statement, Renwood executives announced that the company will move production to a nearby facility. Renwood still owns Renwood Ranch, which includes 135 acres of vines.

The Renwood property provides Rombauer with a base of operations in the Sierra Foothills, long the leading source of grapes for its lineup of Zins. The late Rombauer began farming grapes and making Zin from the region starting in the mid-1990s. "He loved the fruit up here for its intensity, its richness and its complexity," said Knebel. The winery purchased the Twin Rivers Vineyard in neighboring El Dorado County in 2010 and currently owns 148 acres of vines in the region.

Rombauer plans to develop the estate vineyard and invest in the winemaking facility. "It matches our current and anticipated needs for the next several years," said Knebel.

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