Wine genius David Phinney seems to have a pretty good deal going. He invents a label, makes it a marketing phenom, then sells it for a princely sum to a wine conglomerate.
Phinney’s most recent deal was to sell his Locations series to E&J Gallo. It was only a few years ago that Phinney was inspired to blend wines across regions and label them after the country’s designation. Resembling a bumper sticker, “F” was for France, “E” for Spain, “AZ” for Arizona, etc. There was no regard for boundaries in deciding which varieties to use in his blends. However quixotic, the wines were tasty — and reasonably priced at $20 a bottle. It was a formula that abandoned traditions that would be Phinney’s ticket to success.
The sales price was not disclosed.
Phinney already had a friendly business relationship with Gallo, having sold his Orin Swift wines to them just two years ago. Constellation now has the Prisoner brand.
Phinney was able to launch new labels without owning any vineyards or winemaking facilities. Think about that. He sells a label. Presumably, he stays aboard and makes the wine, but I suspect it is in name only.
Phinney’s latest wine is 8 Years in the Desert made under the Orin Swift label. It is a zinfandel blend that sells for $45 a bottle.