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No change at Opus One

Despite speculation about a total buyout of Opus One by Philippine de Rothschild, the exclusive wine will remain a joint venture.

Baroness Philippine de Rothschild of Château Mouton-Rothschild and Robert Sands, the president of Constellation Brands, have agreed to remain owners of the Napa Valley winery.

The 50-50 arrangement, announced yesterday, formalises the partnership that resulted from Constellation’s purchase of the Robert Mondavi Corporation for $1.03bn (£0.57bn) in 2003.

Opus One was a joint venture announced in 1980 by Robert Mondavi and Philippe de Rothschild, the Baroness’ late father. The wine is a luxury red produced at a dedicated winery in Oakville, Napa.

The renewed Bordeaux-California partnership brings changes, however. Instead of using Mondavi vineyard personnel, Opus One has now hired and trained its own employees.

Opus One will now sell its wines directly to American distributors; previously, the Mondavi sales team did the work. Outside America, the wine is distributed ‘by selected Bordeaux négociants – the first California wine to be so represented,’ says Opus One.

The first Opus One vintages, 1979 and 1980, were released in 1984. The latest vintage, 2001, costs around £100 per bottle.

Written by Howard G. Goldberg in New York

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