Grape sourcing for Buena Vista to expand beyond Carneros regionHEALDSBURG -- California's oldest wine brand, Buena Vista, will be relocating north to Alexander Valley this spring to increase efficiency and allow greater sourcing of grapes, Ascentia Wine Estates announced today.

The tasting room will remain near Sonoma at the historic site where Agoston Haraszthy started Buena Vista in 1857. However, production of Buena Vista will be relocated to the Geyser Peak winery in Geyserville in the next 45 to 60 days from the current winery at 27000 Ramal Road amid 564 acres of vines in The Carneros winegrowing region straddling southern Sonoma and Napa counties.

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"Given that both Buena Vista and Geyser Peak have Sonoma County origins, consolidating our production of both brands is the smart business move for us," said Mike Kenton, chief executive officer of Ascentia since January.

The lease on the 350,000-case Ramal Road winery and surrounding vineyards with St. Helena-based VinREIT, a subsidiary of Entertainment Properties Trust, has been terminated. Ascentia leased the Ramal Road property in conjunction with the $234 million acquisition of Geyser Peak, Buena Vista, Atlas Peak, Columbia, Covey Run, Gary Farrell, Ste. Chapelle and XYZin brands from Constellation Brands in mid-2008.

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Grapes for Buena Vista now will come from around Sonoma County, allowing for more varietal wines and larger production than would be possible with a Carneros appellation wine, according to the company.

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Rather than disconnecting the brand from Carneros, the consolidation will open more opportunities for the brand, according to a spokesman.

"We see this as expanding the profile of Buena Vista," he said. "We're very proud to be a Sonoma brand. This will allow for expansion of the brand as well as the Sonoma County designation."

Former Ascentia top executive and current Vice Chairman Jim DeBonis has said he was proud about his work with Buena Vista in returning the brand to estate grape sourcing. The brand has been produced outside of Carneros and Sonoma Valley under various ownership in its long history, according to a spokesman.

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The Carneros appellation wines now retail for $18 a bottle for chardonnay and $25 for pinot noir. The Ramal Vineyard vineyard-designate series retailed for $38 to $42 a bottle.

Buena Vista will become superpremium-priced brand, according to a spokesman.

Ascentia is in talks with Buena Vista winemaker Jeff Stewart about a continued role with the brand, including new aspects.