SANTA ROSA -- Cotati-based Sonoma Wine Accessories has acquired the assets of International Wine Accessories, a catalog and online seller of glasses, chillers, bottle racks and other items, and part of the Santa Rosa-based Vintage Wine Estates portfolio.
Terms of the sale, effective Tuesday, weren't disclosed.
IWA (www.iwawine.com) will continue as a separate brand owned by Cotati-based Planet One Products, Inc., which owns 2-year-old Sonoma Wine Accessories, Le Cache Premium Wine Cabinets and CellarPro Cooling Systems. IWA will focus on commercial and wholesale accounts.
"IWA is a great fit with our existing brands,” said Ben Argov, 46, an owner of Sonoma Wine Accessories. "As an innovator in the wine storage industry for over 29 years, IWA has built a loyal customer base that is irreplaceable. We intend to keep IWA’s brand and build upon its leading reputation in the market for wine storage products and accessories."
Planet One Products has been interested in IWA since Foster's Group sold it and Windsor Vineyards to the founders of Vintage Wine Estates in April 2007, according to Mr. Argov. Started in 2004 with the acquisition of Le Cache, the founders of Planet One -- former Bay Area investment bankers Mr. Argov and Keith Sedwick and businessman Bruce Kirsten -- were looking to expand further into the market for products for wine enthusiasts. That led to starting CellarPro in 2008 to produce better cooling systems for those storage cabinets and Sonoma Wine Accessories the following year.
Sonoma Wine Accessories and IWA are somewhat complementary but have served different markets historically, Mr. Argov said. Similar to IWA, Sonoma Wine Accessories (www.sonomawineaccessories.com) sells wine cellar racks, furniture, refrigeration equipment, gifts, stemware and accessories to aficionados around the world, but IWA has been dominant in gifts, stemware and tabletop accessories. Going forward, IWA regains the wholesale focus it had several years ago, and Sonoma Wine Accessories will have more of a retail focus, he said.
"With the advent of the Internet, there have been a lot of larger accounts going directly to manufacturers and not using IWA like they did in the past," Mr. Argov said. "What we bring to the table for accounts is the value of one-stop shopping. So it's not just one brand of wine refrigerator or corkscrew, but they can shop for and take delivery of products from storage to consumption to preservation. They would have to interact with a lot of manufacturers versus going to us."
Like other businesses involved in discretionary consumer products, sales for Planet One companies started falling in late 2008. However, sales last year rebounded 58 percent over those of 2010, enough so to surpass revenues before the recession, according to Mr. Argov.
In the next three months, IWA operations will move from Vintage Wine Estates offices near Charles M. Schulz--Sonoma County Airport to Planet One Products' warehouse and showroom at 531 Mercantile Dr. in Cotati. How many workers will be added to the 20 currently employed at Planet One's companies has yet to be determined, Mr. Argov said. The heightened wholesale focus likely will call for a larger salesforce, he said.
Started in 1991, Le Cache (www.lecachewinecabinets.com) makes furniture-quality refrigerated wine cabinets for storing and aging fine wines with advanced temperature and humidity control.
"When we purchased Le Cache in 2004, we decided to focus our efforts on the wine storage industry because we believed that we could improve on the way products are made and delivered," Mr. Argov said. Cotati was far enough north to tap into Sonoma County wine country job pools around Santa Rosa and close enough to the former bankers' homes in Marin County.