It’s been talked about virtually ad nauseum in some circles of late, but there’s been a major round of consolidation in quite a few industries. It seems everywhere I look, the big boys get bigger and without a disruptive force, the little guys are having trouble keeping up.
The wine industry in some circles, isn’t much different. One force almost always on the lookout around Sonoma is Kendall Jackson, which has set their sites more recently on another famous Pinot Noir growing region: Oregon.
While wine drinkers could have arguments about which Oregon wineries are the most important in terms of Pinot Noir production, Penner-Ash is certainly among the dozen most important names.
KJ has been expanding pretty rapidly into Oregon Pinot Noir, buying wineries, potential production space and of course, spots with enough foot traffic to support large scale tasting rooms (ie right across from tourist spots in and around McMinniville).
For Penner-Ash the idea is pretty simple. You get to continue making wine the way that you want, but you bring in both a huge paycheck, as well as, the marketing muscle behind KJ. Really, to me this is all about distribution. Penner-Ash wins because they get access to all the on premise restaurants that has made KJ into what it is today. KJ wins because it now owns a big piece of Oregon Pinot, getting those placements and increased sales are going to be easy and having tasting at Penner-Ash only 2 years ago myself….I don’t think it’s a stretch that KJ will look at either expanding the brand itself, or buying some of the land next to their estate vineyard which still looks like this (I’m told that this is evidently wheat….hey, I grew up in California and I can probably tell 3 different types of avocado trees apart)
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