E&J Gallo snaps up Napa’s Orin Swift

California’s E&J Gallo has announced its purchase of Napa’s Orin Swift Cellars, the latest in a raft of acquisitions within the Napa Valley as it continues to strengthen its premium portfolio.

orin-swift-1Orin Swift Cellars was founded by winemaker Dave Phinney in 1998 and produces wines with distinctive, abstract labels.

The acquisition includes the Orin Swift Cellars brand, inventory, and control of its tasting room in St. Helena, which opened in 2013. Orin Swift Cellars does not own a winery facility, with its production currently standing at 100,000 cases.

“This purchase supports the company’s strategy for continued growth in the luxury wine segment,” said Roger Nabedian, senior vice president and general manager of Gallo’s Premium Wine Division.

Orin Swift Cellar’s first flagship wine was the “Prisoner” label – a Zinfandel-based blend created by Phinney – which achieved remarkable success growing from 385 cases to 85,000 in the space of a decade. Phinney sold the brand to Huneeus Vintners – also owners of Napa’s Quintessa Winery – in 2013. The brand was once again sold in April 2016, this time to Constellation Brands.

Orin Swift’s current wines include a Bordeaux blend Papillon; Machete, a blend of Petite Sirah,  Syrah and Grenache; and Trigger Finger, a 100% Grenache.

Phinney will remain winemaker at Orin following its sale to Gallo.

“I’ve known and done business with the Gallo family for over a decade and it makes me very proud that a company that I have such a deep respect for will become the steward of the brand that bears my family’s name,” said Phinney. “I’m looking forward to a long and productive relationship where together we can propel Orin Swift Cellars to even greater heights.”

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed, but follows a number of strategic acquisitions by Gallo within the Napa Valley to strengthen its position within the premium wine market.

In December 2015, Gallo tripled its production capacity in the Napa Valley with purchase of The Ranch Winery – a custom grape-crush facility with a capacity of 30,000 tons.

This followed acquisitions of vineyards in the region in the preceding year, which included its purchase of Talbott Vineyards in California’s Santa Lucia Highlands and sparkling wine specialist J Vineyards & Winery, a deal that included the Healdsburg winery and 121 hectares of vineyards in Sonoma and the Russian River Valley.

Two months later it bought two vineyard sites in the Napa Valley – Cypress Ranch and part of the Palisades Vineyard near Calistoga.

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