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After Renwood Purchase, Rombauer Sees Further Opportunity For Zinfandel

November 12, 2019

In March, Napa’s Rombauer Vineyards purchased the Amador County-based Renwood winery from Argentine investment group Ren Acquisitions, whose owners include billionaire vintner Alejandro Bulgheroni. The sale, whose financial details weren’t disclosed, included a 20-acre estate vineyard as well as the winery and its tasting room, comprising around 65,000 square feet in total. Since the acquisition, Rombauer has transitioned the tasting room over to its own branding, and moved production of Zinfandel to the Renwood location.

Rombauer is known for its Chardonnay offerings, and the Renwood purchase marks not just an increase in overall volume, which currently hovers around 300,000 cases, but the start of an expanded Zinfandel program. While Rombauer president Bob Knebel notes that the Zinfandel category, especially at lower pricing tiers, has been down in recent years, Rombauer’s expressions of the varietal have held steady. “We’ve been a counter-trend to Zinfandel’s fall,” he says. “At one point, our Zinfandel was actually outpacing growth of our other wines. Now it’s roughly in line with the Chardonnay.”

Rombauer currently offers five different Zinfandels sourced from across the Sierra Foothills and Napa Valley, ranging from the 2017 Rombauer Zinfandel ($19 a 750-ml.) to a number of single vineyard expressions, to the 2016 Proprietor Selection Zinfandel ($65), a limited-production offering that’s only produced in exceptional vintages. Though the majority of the Renwood estate vineyard is planted to Zinfandel, Knebel notes that Petite Sirah, Barbera, and a few Portuguese varietals are also on vine. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are also integral to the winery’s red wine portfolio, with a total of six wines offered between the two.

Rombauer’s barrel-fermented California Chardonnays remain a cornerstone of its production. In a more recent development, however, the winery’s Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($24) has captured the fastest volume growth. Knebel says this is in part due to its smaller base—the wine was introduced in 2014, making it the first new varietal to join the Rombauer fold since 1990, when the winery’s Zinfandel came on stream.

At the winery’s new tasting room, located just under 3 hours from its Napa site, Knebel says traffic has been steady thus far, and adds that the facility has been a valuable add for existing consumers. “The tasting room is turning out to be a destination for people who have been up to Napa Valley many times, and are now interested in seeing another part of California’s wine industry,” he says. Moving forward, Rombauer will focus on further building its presence in the region. Rombauer now has 670 acres of vineyards, located in Carneros, Atlas Peak, Stags Leap, St. Helena, Calistoga, and the Sierra Foothills.—Julia Higgins

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