Constellation to close RH Phillips Winery

Constellation,recession,credit crunch,RH Phillips winery News Wine News
  • Tuesday 26 May 2009

Constellation has announced the closure of its RH Phillips winery in Esparto, California.

In yet another cost-cutting move, on September 1st the production of RH Phillips popular Toasted Head and Night Harvest wines will be moved to the Constellation-owned Woodbridge winemaking facility in Lodi, California, approximately 80 miles away.

This move is concurrent with other downsizing in Australia, including the layoff of some 300 employees, including several executives, the departure of senior Australian winemaker Rob Bowen, and the sale of the Goundrey brand, as reported recently by decanter.com.

The RH Phillips winery employs some 53 employees responsible for producing some 500,000 cases of Toasted Head and 250,000 cases of Night Harvest wines annually.

Winemaker and general manager Barry Bergman has reportedly accepted a job at Domaine Chandon in the Napa Valley, and according to Constellation spokesperson Nora Feeley, winemakers Blake Kuhn and Owen Smith will move over to the Woodbridge facility.

Vineyard manager Rod Schaeffer will stay on to manage the 1,700 acres of vineyards in the Yolo County Dunnigan Hills AVA that came with the winery when it was purchased from Vincor by Constellation in 2006.

Feeley said that it is too early in the game to say whether any of the other employees will be retained, but that the ones who are laid off will receive severance compensation packages.

Feeley added that Constellation feels it can maintain the quality of the wines while making them at its Lodi facility.

Lane Guiguere, who founded RH Phillips with her husband John Guigere and his brother Karl Guigere in 1983 has described the move as incredibly sad, not only for the employees, but the local community.

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