Napa Valley’s Rombauer Vineyards buys Renwood Winery to expand line of zinfandel

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Napa Valley’s Rombauer Vineyards is expanding its presence in Sierra Foothills zinfandel country with the acquisition of the Renwood Winery.

The deal, announced Thursday, includes the 65,000 square feet of production, cellar, barrel storage and tasting facilities at 12225 Steiner Road in the Amador County community of Plymouth. Also included are 20 acres of vineyards. The purchase price wasn’t disclosed.

Not included are the Renwood brand and Renwood Ranch Vineyard, which will continue to be owned by the Argentinian investors who purchased the property in a bankruptcy court auction in 2012 for nearly $7 million.

Renwood started in 1993, a few years before Koerner Rombauer, the late founder of the Napa Valley winery, started farming wine grapes in the region. Founded in 1982, Rombauer Vineyards currently owns 148 acres of El Dorado County vines, mostly planted to zinfandel, and sources grapes from other growers in Amador County. The vintner said it owns over 670 acres of vines all together, largely in Napa Valley and Carneros.

“My dad loved the Sierra Foothills and always envisioned Rombauer crafting more wine from this outstanding grape growing region,” said proprietor K.R. Rombauer, in the announcement. “In fact, he attempted to acquire this very property in 2011. I am sorry Koerner isn’t here today to see the purchase come to fruition but I know he would be extremely pleased.”

Koerner Rombauer died in May of last year.

The Renwood facility can crush about 1,200–1,500 tons of grapes annually, equating to roughly 40,000–50,000 cases of wine a year, according to Bob Knebel, Rombauer CEO.

The vintner currently makes five zinfandel labels from the St. Helena winery, he told the Business Journal. The one with the California appellation on the label is positioned for a wider market in restaurants and stores, and it is made mostly with Sierra Foothills fruit, plus some from Napa Valley and Lake County. The other zin labels are smaller in production size.

"We needed to liberate capacity in Napa Valley," Knebel said. "We had the option of expanding our operations here, but with so much zinfandel coming from the Sierra Foothills we want to have production as close to the source of fruit as possible."

The Napa Valley zin will continue to be made at the St. Helena winery. Rombauer also has a winery in southern Napa Valley that focuses on chardonnay, the variety the brand is most known for.

Rombauer Vineyards plans to reopen the Renwood Winery tasting room in April after upgrades, offering the locally sourced Rombauer wines plus others in the family's portfolio. Over 20,000 people visit the property annually, Knebel said.

"This is a region that is growing in popularity," he said.

Contact Jeff Quackenbush at jquackenbush@busjrnl.com or 707-521-4256.

This story has been updated with comments from Rombauer Vineyards CEO Bob Knebel.

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