WINE: Huneeus acquires brands; investor takes Copain stake

More North Coast wineries were making and receiving investments as 2009 came to a close.

Huneeus Vintners, which owns the Quintessa winery and Faust brand in Napa Valley, Veramonte in Chile and Illumination in Argentina, acquired The Prisoner and Saldo brands from Rutherford-based Orin Swift Cellars, owned by Dave Phinney.

Mr. Phinney will continue to make those wines and retains ownership of the other Orin Swift brands, Mercury Head, Veladora and Papillon.

The first vintage of zinfandel-based red blend The Prisoner, which retails for $35 a bottle, was 2003, and production tops 70,000 cases a year. 2007 was the first vintage for the 39,000-case North Coast zin-heavy Saldo brand, which retails for $28 a bottle.

Early last year Agustin Huneeus purchased a stake in Sonoma Coast chardonnay and pinot noir maker Flowers Vineyard and Winery. In September, The Vincraft Group of Sonoma made a sizeable play, estimated to be $30 million to $40 million, for the Kosta Browne brand.

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