California giant adds Washington wine to portfolio

By on January 10, 2013

One of California’s largest and most successful wineries is dipping its toes into Washington wine.

Washington wine Charles & Charles

Charlies Bieler, left, and Charles Smith are behind Charles & Charles, a Washington wine

Trinchero Family Estates in St. Helena, Calif., is teaming up with Charles Smith of K Vintners in Walla Walla, Wash., and Charles Bieler of New York to manage sales, marketing and distribution of Charles & Charles, a joint venture of Smith and Bieler.

Smith owns K Vintners, Charles Smith Wines and Secco Italian Bubbles and launched the wildly popular House Wine label. Bieler already partners with Trinchero on Three Thieves and also is well known for Gotham Project, a leader in the wine-on-tap market.

Charles & Charles is based in the tiny Walla Walla Valley town of Waitsburg and produces two wines, a rosé and a red blend, both from Washington grapes. The red is a blend of Cab and Syrah that sells for under $15. The rosé is from Syrah and sells for about $11.

From white Zinfandel to Washington wine

Washington wine Charles & Charles

Trinchero is best known for owning such brands as Sutter Home, Folie a Deux, Trinity Oaks, Menage a Trois, Trinchero Napa Valley and the no-alcohol Fre brand. Trinchero introduced the world to white Zinfandel in the 1970s and now produces more white Zin than the entire state of Washington produces wine.

Smith is excited about the new venture with Trinchero.

“This alliance is awesome for Charles & Charles wines and huge for the entire Washington wine industry,” Smith said in a news release. “It’s very exciting to work with Trinchero, given the power of their distribution and sales network.”

Bob Torkelson, president of Trinchero, said the label is a good fit for its portfolio, especially given how Washington wine sales are a strong sector.

Last fall, Wine Spectator put the Charles & Charles rosé at No. 42 of its year-end top 100 list.

Trinchero also markets and distributes Joel Gott Wines, Bandit (which has a Washington Riesling) and Newman’s Own. It also sells imports from Australia, Argentina, Chile and France, as well as Mexican tequila.

About Andy Perdue

Andy Perdue is the editor and publisher of Great Northwest Wine. He is a third-generation journalist who has worked at newspapers since the mid-1980s and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest magazine with Eric Degerman and served as its editor-in-chief for 15 years. He is a frequent judge at international wine competitions. He is the author of "The Northwest Wine Guide: A Buyer's Handbook" (Sasquatch, 2003) and has contributed to four other books. He writes about wine for The Seattle Times. You can find him on Twitter and .

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