Deal Not Done: Korbel Keeps Kenwood

As has been the case in many industries over the past five years, there has been a great deal of consolidation in the wine business.

So last March, when it was announced that F. Korbel & Bros. would sell one of Sonoma County’s iconic wineries, Kenwood Vineyards, to Banfi Vintners, we were not surprised.

“We are thoroughly impressed at the incredible achievements of Gary Heck with Kenwood, and hope to become a worthy custodian of this historic brand,” said Banfi co-CEOs James Mariani and Cristina Mariani-May in a press release at the time. “We want the transition to be as seamless as possible.”

But rather than being seamless, you might say that the deal came apart at the seams. It was not completed, and now Kenwood is moving forward, still under the F. Korbel & Bros. banner.

Kenwood is widely known for its “Artist Series” Cabernet Sauvignon. My friends have, at times, called me a “wine label nut” (lovingly, of course), and Kenwood’s has always been one of my favorites. I’ve written about it often through the years, most recently here.

From a purely selfish perspective, I’m glad the deal didn’t go through, because “business as usual” at Kenwood means, among other things, the continuation of the “Artist Series” Cabernet.

Here’s hoping it turns out to be a good outcome for all concerned.

Posted in The Wine Business
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