By Jessica Yadegaran
Monday, January 28th, 2008 at 1:49 pm in Uncategorized.
The rumors have been confirmed. Rosenblum Cellars, the oldest and largest of the East Bay Vintners, was sold to international beverage consortium Diageo for $105 million today, according to Mike Kohne, Rosenblum’s director of marketing.
The intent is to keep everyone on board and run the Alameda family winery as is, Kohne tells me, adding that winemaker Kent Rosenblum, known worldwide for his vineyard-designate Zinfandel, Syrah and Petit Sirah, is being retained on a five-year contract and is eager to spend more time in the cellar. Rosenblum produced about 200,000 cases last year, with as many as 50 separate bottlings.
“It wasn’t a burning desire to sell,” Rosenblum said, according to a post on Wine Spectator online, “but we have a number of shareholders who are getting up in the years and have expressed an interest in their investments. I think this is a win-win situation for everyone.” Rosenblum, 63, was a veterinarian before starting the winery with his wife Kathy in 1978.
Kohne says the London-based Diageo, which owns Sterling, Beaulieu and Acacia wineries, will help Rosenblum buy new equipment and scout new vineyard sources. Diageo is the big leagues: They were a bidder on Robert Mondavi Winery back in 2004—for which competitor Constellation Brands paid $1.3 billion. That same year, Diageo acquired the Chalone Wine Group instead for $260 million.
The Diageo portfolio lacked a premium Zinfandel producer, hence the interest in Rosenblum. Judging by the record high attendance at ZAP, which wrapped up yet another breakthrough weekend yesterday, this was an incredibly smart move for Diageo. It’ll be interesting to see how the sale effects the landscape of the East Bay Vintners.