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Napa’s C. Mondavi & Family gets into French wines with rosé brand acquisition

C. Mondavi & Family in the Napa Valley has a new venture adding a foreign- produced wine to its portfolio with the addition of a French rosé brand.

Announced Tuesday, the acquisition of the French Blue brand from Flying Blue Imports was characterized as an effort to capture a share of the market for imported wines. This will be the first time that the group has ventured outside California for any of the wines in its portfolio.

“We are excited to take this step to expand our portfolio in the import space. We believe strongly in the future of our wine brands even in the midst of a year affected by COVID-19. French Blue is a great brand with excellent wines from Bordeaux, and we feel they have great potential.” said Judd Wallenbrock, CEO at C. Mondavi & Family.

Production of French Blue currently is 15,000 cases annually. Wallenbrock told the Business Journal the company plans to grow brand production and sales. The brand retails for $14.99 a bottle, with a typical shelf price of $12.99.

The St. Helena-based company said it’s the first time it has ventured outside California for any of the wines in the portfolio. The intent is to attract a new set of consumers from around the country.

“French rosé continues to grow strongly in the U.S., and French Blue can compete with anyone in that category,” notes David Brown, senior vice president of sales at C. Mondavi. “The past four months have forced us to innovate in a number of different ways, and this will be one of the many steps we take to remain at the forefront of the industry.”

Large wine companies in the North Coast in recent years have added foreign brands to their portfolios through import agreements and acquisition. Wallenbrock said the latter allows C. Mondavi to “control our own destiny” in the brand’s direction.

“We’re able to ensure that as we continue to grow the brand, we are maintaining the wine’s quality and pedigree,” he told the Journal.

But C. Mondavi also plans to let the French Blue team do what they do best.

“Having the C. Mondavi & Family team behind us means I can focus on making the best wines possible while they focus on growing the brand,” stated Stephanie Rivin, winemaker at French Blue.

French Blue was founded in 2015 by Roger Scommegna and Rivin. Scommegna is a founder and partner of Three Thieves wines, owner of the Boonville Hotel, and proprietor of the Anderson Valley’s Signal Ridge Vineyard, where Rivin was winemaker. St. Helena’s Trinchero Family Estates produces Three Thieves wines.

Terms of the French Blue acquisition deal, completed July 21, weren’t disclosed.

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