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Bonny Doon sells Big House and Cardinal Zin brands to The Wine Group
Santa Cruz | CA

Santa Cruz, Calif. - Randall Grahm, the owner of Bonny Doon Vineyard, announced today that he has sold two of his leading wine brands to The Wine Group LLC, a management-owned wine company based in San Francisco. The Big House and Cardinal Zin brands will be under the stewardship of The Wine Group's newly formed Underdog Wine Merchants division.

The sale of Big House and Cardinal Zin to The Wine Group includes the brand names, inventories, grape supply contracts and key brand icons. The purchase price was not disclosed.

"I had envisioned a catchy headline like, 'Big House brand escapes the shackles of the tyranny of terroirism,' but thought better of it," commented Grahm. "We have been joking around for so long, it is hard for people to know when we are in fact serious. I feel like the Boy Who Cried (Your Cri de Coeur here),"he added enigmatically.

Randall Grahm's iconic Le Cigare Volant, his homage to Chateauneuf-du-Pape, along with other well-known wines he has created over the years will continue to be wholly owned, produced and sold by Bonny Doon. It is planned that the fast-growing Pacific Rim brand will relocate its production to the state of Washington and will within a year's time, function as an autonomous entity with a sales and management organization distinct from that of Bonny Doon Vineyard.

"Underdog Wine Merchants is an excellent fit for both the Big House and Cardinal Zin brands, the rapid growth of which in the last several years has stressed our own resources and infrastructure to the max," stated Grahm. "This sale allows us to return to our roots, as it were, and re-focus on the production of unique and distinctive, biodynamically produced wines, ones that will truly express a sense of place. I have been raving on long enough about the transcendental value of terroir; it is now time to translate mere words into deeds. (We are not so much down-sizing, as doon-sizing, creating a company that is more congruent with our deepest values.) That being said, it has been an exhilarating and heady ride to grow the brands as we have done. I greatly appreciate the contributions and efforts of those dedicated souls who have helped build these brands with us."

Fritz Lance, President of Underdog Wine Merchants, commented, "This is a tremendous opportunity to add two truly iconic brands to our international portfolio of fun and distinctive wines. Big House and Cardinal Zin will be right at home with our emerging brands such as Pinot Evil, Tempra Tantrum, Killer Juice and Herding Cats. We don't envision making any changes to Mr. Grahm's inspired blends and we hope to build upon his tradition of dynamic and innovative packaging."

Launched by Randall Grahm in 1990, Big House, a flavorful blend of Mediterranean grape varietals, has earned dozens of awards, medals and accolades, including a 90 point Wine Enthusiast "Best Buy" selection for the 2003 vintage. Now offered in a red, white and pink version, Big House has also experienced strong growth since the launch, and is recognized as being California's first super premium blended wine. Big House and Cardinal Zin were among the first super premium California wines to be offered for wide-scale distribution en Stelvin screw-cap, which began with the 2001 vintage, and has helped to propel the overall acceptance of screw-cap closures in the American market. Cardinal Zin, which has redefined irreverence, has grown into one of the USA's leading names in Zinfandel.

The Wine Group LLC is a privately-held company that produces such well known brands as Franzia, Concannon, Glen Ellen, Corbett Canyon, Foxhorn, Fish Eye, Mogen David, Casarsa, and Tribuno. Founded in 1981 by a management buy-out of the wine assets of The Coca-Cola Bottling Company of New York, The Wine Group is currently the world's third largest wine producer by volume.

Robert Nicholson of International Wine Associates, Healdsburg, California initiated this transaction and served as exclusive strategic and financial advisor to Bonny Doon Vineyard.


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