Korbel turns attention to champagne, brandy

  • 10/30/2009:A1: Gary Heck
    9/12/2004: 126: Gary Heck with his blazing red '62 Impala.
    PC: Korbel's Gary Heck.

Gary Heck, head of F. Korbel & Bros., said Saturday that it was "kind of bittersweet" to be selling Kenwood Vineyards, which he acquired 13 years ago, and turning his full attention to Korbel's iconic brands.

"I hate to see Kenwood go," said Heck, who is Korbel's president and owner. But with sales of champagne and sparkling wine a record high in the United States, "we want to put all of our resources and focus behind Korbel," he said.

"We're going to explore around sparkling and brandy," Heck said, noting the company sells about 1.35 million cases of Korbel champagne per year.

Korbel announced Friday that it was selling Kenwood Vineyards in the Sonoma Valley to Banfi Vinters, a privately owned, New York-based wine marketing firm that is making its first foray into California.

Kenwood, located in the Sonoma Valley town of the same name, has played a vital role in the growth of Sonoma County winemaking. It was created nearly 40 years ago by local winemakers who focused on producing finely crafted premium wines that helped the county's varietals explode onto the national marketplace.

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