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Exclusive: Bacchus Launches “Wineworks” Sales And Marketing Unit With Highly Rated Trio

November 6, 2013

Bacchus Capital Management—the San Francisco-based private equity firm formed by industry veteran Sam Bronfman and investment bankers Peter Kaufman and Henry Owsley—is set to open its own sales and marketing unit, BCM Wineworks. The new unit’s first three brands—Dry Creek’s Sbragia Family Vineyards, Napa’s Madrigal Family Winery and Washington’s DeLille Cellars—all belong to the upscale segment, and are all Bacchus investments.

Sbragia, founded by former Beringer winemaker Ed Sbragia in 2001, currently produces around 20,000 cases and was previously marketed by Treasury Wine Estates. Bronfman tells SND he expects a smooth transition as Bacchus takes the brand’s sales and marketing under its own wing. DeLille (around 15,000 cases) and Madrigal (around 10,000 cases) have each handled their own sales up to now. DeLille co-founder and sales manager Jay Soloff is joining BCM Wineworks as vice president of national sales.

While small in volume, the first brands for Bacchus’ new sales unit have garnered ample critical acclaim. Sbragia Family Vineyards and DeLille have each earned more than 30 scores of 90-plus from Wine Spectator. Madrigal, on which Ed Sbragia oversees winemaking, has earned 19 scores of 87 points or above.

Bronfman will serve as Wineworks’ chairman. Steve Cousins, currently general manager of Sbragia Family Vineyards and COO of Madrigal, will be Wineworks’ president, and industry veteran Bill Piersol, former director of marketing at Stags’ Leap and Foster’s Wine Estates, is also joining the team as senior advisor of marketing and planning. “Over time, we expect significant growth on these brands,” Bronfman says. “We’ve made investments in production at DeLille, which has done very well but hasn’t had enough wine to go national.”

Of the possibility of adding brands that are not Bacchus investments to BCM Wineworks, Kaufman says, “We’re not planning on doing that, but we also have the philosophy of never say never. For now, our sole focus is to improve distribution for our current portfolio.”

In addition to Sbragia, Madrigal and DeLille, Bacchus Capital’s investments include Andretti Winery, whose business is mostly direct-to-consumer, along with Oregon’s Wine By Joe and Panther Creek. Andretti and Panther Creek share a national sales manager, while Wine By Joe is handled by Old Bridge Cellars. Bacchus also holds a share of San Francisco importer and distributor Maritime Trading Collective.

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