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Opus One deal reached

Published:  23 July, 2008

After months of speculation, the Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Constellation brands have come to an agreement over the super-premium California winery Opus One, owned jointly by the two companies.

The new deal sees Opus One continue to be jointly owned by the two companies but with increasing autonomy for the business in the areas of vineyard management, sales and marketing, and administration.

Constellation acquired half the winery following its purchase of Robert Mondavi Winery late last year, leading to speculation that the French partner would buy out its new partners.

Robert Sands, president and chief executive of Constellation Brands, commented: 'Formerly employing the vineyard teams of Robert Mondavi, Opus One has now hired and trained its own personnel. The winery will now also sell its wines - for the first time - directly to distributors in the US market.' Historically, Opus One's sales have been supported by the Robert Mondavi sales force.

Baroness Philippine de Rothschild said: 'These agreements reflect the next step in Opus One's evolution as an estate with unique direction, identity and culture.'

The winery, located in Oakville in the Napa Valley, hired its first dedicated chief executive David Pearson and viticulturalist and winemaker Michael Silacci last year.

Opus One was founded in 1980 with the aim of making a luxury Bordeaux blend. The current release is from the 2001 vintage and retails for between 75 and 100 a bottle.