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Gallo buys famed Ukiah brandy producer Germain-Robin

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E&J Gallo Winery of Modesto announced Wednesday that it has bought Ukiah’s Germain-Robin, California’s first luxury brandy brand.

The distillery was formed in 1982 between Ansley J. Coale Jr. and Hubert Germain-Robin, a French native whose family has produced cognac since 1782. The two began making brandies from premium California grapes, such as pinot noir as zinfandel, which generated positive reviews when they later aged and entered the marketplace in the late 1990s.

Its bottles sell for between $40 and $100.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Gallo is the country’s largest winery, with a large presence in the North Coast, and also produces its own brandy line. Korbel Champagne Cellars of Guerneville also is another top brandy producer.

“For decades, Germain-Robin has struggled to place brandy distilled from California wine where it belongs: a category, long overlooked, in fact worthy of inclusion at all levels among the world’s finest spirits,” Coale said in a statement.

“We hope — indeed intend — that our unique knowledge and capabilities, supported and augmented by, and carefully integrated into, Gallo’s deep experience and powerful resources in both production and marketing, will help bring brandy from California wine the recognition it so richly deserves,” Coale added.

Coale and Joseph Corley, the current Germain-Robin distiller and cellarmaster, will remain involved in the business as part of the acquisition, said Ernest J. Gallo, general manager of Gallo’s spirits business.

The U.S. brandy and cognac market in 2015 had sales of $1.9 billion, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. That figure represented a 7 percent growth from the previous year. International Wine Associates of Healdsburg represented Germain-Robin.

You can reach Staff Writer Bill Swindell at 707-521-5223 or bill.swindell@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @BillSwindell.

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