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06.11.2010

Requiem for a Winery. Transition to a Wine Brand.

Let me make this clear. I don't intend to write about every Bay Area winery that shutters its doors. Though for the next year or two I'd certainly have a lot of things to write about.

But I am choosing to note the sad (and all too common) denouement of Rosenblum Wine Cellars, whose parent company Diageo announced its intention to close the popular winery in Alameda last rosenblum_image.jpgmonth and shifted production for the brand, which will continue to exist, up to the BV facility in Napa.

I wrote a story last year year entitled How to Kill a Wine Brand. I only need to write that story once.

The sale of Rosenblum for more than $100 million was, of course, a triumph for founder Kent Rosenblum, who built a wine brand from nothing to become one of the darlings of the California wine industry. Under the terms reported at the time, Rosenblum and his operation were to be left alone to do their thing.

But that was before the wine industry fell off a cliff. And Diageo doesn't have a strong track record of allowing its acquisitions to be truly independent, as opposed to simply brands in the portfolio.

So while it's not entirely a surprise that the beloved Alameda winery will no longer host the thousands of loyal customers in its big hangar of a space, and will no longer incubate other small wine labels as it has done for years, it certainly is a damn shame.

Of course, bottles bearing the Rosenblum label will continue to show up on store shelves for the coming years, and there's a chance that they may still be just as good as they used to be. But they certainly will lack some soul that they once had, even if you can't really taste the difference.

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.