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Opus One future decided

The future of Opus One is settled, decanter.com has learned.

Negotiations over the future of Opus One, between Baroness Philippine de Rothschild and Constellation Brands, have concluded, the company confirmed today.

The outcome will be announced Thursday at Opus One, said David Pearson, Opus One’s chief executive officer.

Pearson warned against speculation that the Baroness, proprietor of Château Mouton-Rothschild in Bordeaux, is acquiring Constellation’s 50 percent share in Opus One, the high-end Bordeaux-style red produced in the Napa Valley.

He left the impression that those who speculate in that direction might be surprised when the announcement is made, at a luncheon at Opus One on Thursday. The invitation promised a significant announcement about the future of Opus One. Both the Baroness and Robert Sands, Constellation’s president, are to be present.

In November, Constellation purchased Mondavi’s assets for US$1.4bn. It was agreed that Mondavi’s partners in joint ventures would be given the opportunity to buy out Mondavi’s interests.

Barring surprises, the outcome could take one of these forms: the Baroness will take over Opus One entirely; Constellation will become the sole owner; the joint venture will continue, with suitable modifications, for example taking Robert Mondavi’s likeness off the bottle.

The Opus One partnership was announced in 1980, and its first vintages, 1979 and 1980, were first released in 1984.

Opus One was created by Baroness de Rothschild’s father, Philippe, who died in 1988, and by Robert Mondavi, the patriarch of the former wine empire. The wine is produced at Opus One’s facility in Oakville, near the former Mondavi property.

The Robert Mondavi Winery is now part of Constellation’s fine-wine portfolio, called Icon Estates and formerly known as Franciscan Estates.

Written by Howard G Goldberg in New York

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