HEALDSBURG -- Australian wine producer and distributor Accolade Wines today confirmed it acquired the wine brands Geyser Peak and XYZ Zin in Sonoma County and Atlas Peak in Napa Valley from Ascentia Wine Estates.

The deal also includes brand assets and inventory as well as a lease for the Geyser Peak winery, The Cellar Door tasting room and 98 acres of Alexander Valley cabernet sauvignon vineyards near Geyserville. The purchase price wasn't disclosed.

Industry sources say that Ascentia is in talks to sell Washington state brands Columbia and Covey Run to E&J Gallo. That would be the last of the Ascentia brands assembled in a mid-2008 bulk purchase from Constellation Brands with backing for GESD Partners and Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits. Ascentia sold Ste. Chapelle Winery in Idaho's Snake River Valley appellation in May to Seattle-based Precept Wine. Just over a year ago, Ascentia sold Gary Farrell Winery in Russian River Valley to Sonoma-based Vincraft and Buena Vista Carneros to Rutherford-based Boisset Family Wines.

Accolade Wines lists itself as the fifth largest wine company in the world. Chief Executive Officer Troy Christensen said the newly acquired brands would be key to the global wine producer's growth in the U.S., which is now the world's largest wine market.

“Their acquisition will allow us to leverage the expertise we already have in global distribution and innovation and help us to develop the opportunities we see emerging within the United States,” Mr. Christensen said.

Acquiring a U.S. brand to get access to the domestic wine market also was a key motivator by Chile-based wine giant Concha y Toro to acquire Hopland-based Fetzer Vineyards and related brands a year ago.

The Geyser Peak and Atlas Peak brands give the Accolade portfolio two top California winegrowing appellations, in addition to brands from Australia, South Africa and Europe, according to Mr. Christensen. The company plans to expand sales of the brands in the U.S. and market them through the company's existing distribution in the United Kingdom, the rest of Europe and Asia.

Tim Matz, managing director for Accolade in North America and formerly president of Foley Family Wines,  said Accolade is thinking about expanding the higher-end Geyser Peak wines and bring "a range of outstanding experimental events" to the property.

"These brands have a great deal of history and resonance within the California story, this is a great opportunity to reinvigoate them with new investment," he said.

Accolade made job offers to a "signfiicant number" of local Ascentia employees, Mr. Matz said.

Production of the Geyser Peak, Atlas Peak and XYZin brands is centralized at the Geyserville winery. Annual production is between 200,000 and 300,000 cases a year. Beside the vines leased in this transaction, the rest of the grape for the local brands will be supplied via grape-purchase contracts, according to Mr. Matz.

Ascentia Chief Executive Officer Jim DeBonis did not return calls for comment.