E.&J. Gallo Buys Rombauer Vineyards

E.&J. Gallo is dramatically increasing its footprint in luxury California wine. America’s largest wine producer is buying Napa-based Rombauer Vineyards. The deal includes the Rombauer brand, three winery facilities, two tasting rooms and more than 700 acres of sustainably-farmed vineyards in Carneros, Atlas Peak, St. Helena, Calistoga, Sonoma Valley, and the Sierra Foothills. Neither side disclosed a purchase price. The deal was first reported by Shanken News Daily, a sister publication of Wine Spectator.

Founded by military and commercial airline pilot Koerner Rombauer and his wife Joan in 1980, and now owned by his heirs, Rombauer produces roughly 350,000 cases of wine a year. And while the winery is best known for its Chardonnay, which helped define modern California Chardonnay as big, rich and bold, it also produces outstanding Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, and recently branched out into Pinot Noir. (The family has a long history in American food culture; Koerner’s great aunt, Irma Rombauer, wrote the original The Joy of Cooking in 1931.)

“The Rombauer brand and family have built a reputation around quality and integrity,” said Joseph C. Gallo, vice president and general manager of Gallo’s Luxury Wine Group, in a statement. According to Gallo, Rombauer’s leadership and winemaking staff, including vice president of viticulture and winemaking Richie Allen, will remain at the company. “It’s an iconic brand rooted in distinctive and respected wines. We are excited to work on this next chapter alongside the very talented Rombauer leadership and winemaking team. Their values, along with their long-term focus, align seamlessly with our culture. Our shared goal is to honor and build on this legacy.”

Rombauer didn’t appear to be positioning itself for a sale. It has made recent investments in winemaking, partnered with Pinot Noir specialist Adam Lee and added numerous vineyards to its assets in recent years. But while Gallo is known for its expertise in large, value-priced brands, the company has demonstrated in recent years that it knows how to partner with premium, family-owned wineries, like Louis M. Martini and Orin Swift, and grow the brands while maintaining quality and identity. A Gallo executive told Wine Spectator that the company plans to invest in Rombauer to enable the winemaking team to continue to deliver world-class wines.

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“Gallo is a family-owned business, exemplifying long-term vision and patience,” said owner K.R. Rombauer, son of Rombauer’s founders. “They demonstrate respectful stewardship of every brand in their luxury portfolio. We have strikingly similar company values.”

Rombauer joins a Gallo premium domestic portfolio that also includes Pahlmeyer, Orin Swift, Louis M. Martini, J Vineyards & Winery, Denner Vineyards and Talbott Vineyards. Gallo remains the top wine marketer in the U.S. with annual volume of approximately 90 million cases, according to Impact Databank, more than twice that of its closest competitor, The Wine Group. The Rombauer deal follows two recent purchases in the Central Coast: Hahn Family Wines in June and Denner Vineyards last November.

“It’s humbling to recognize how far we’ve come—from our first vintage of wines in 1980 where we hand sold every bottle—to where we are today,” said Rombauer. “My hope for the future is continued success delivering the wines our consumers know and love.”

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Source : https://www.winespectator.com/articles/gallo-buys-rombauer-vineyards

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