Constellation Brands and Baron Philippe de Rothschild S.A. have reached agreement on the future of Opus One, the ultra-premium Californian wine producer set up as a joint venture between Rothschild and Robert Mondavi.

The two companies have announced a new partnership agreement for Opus One Winery following Constellation's acquisition of Robert Mondavi Winery in late-2004. They have agreed to maintain 50-50 joint ownership of Opus One, but have also agreed to retain Opus One's independence in three areas: vineyard management, sales and marketing, and administration.

Previously supported by the Mondavi sales force, Opus One was effectively given its own independent structure with the appointment of David Pearson as CEO and Michael Silacci as head of viticulture and winemaking in 2004. This independence has now been reaffirmed by the agreement between Constellation and Rothschild. "This accord will empower and enable Opus One to carry on the vision of its founders," Pearson said, "and to improve upon what it does best."

Outside the US, Opus One is now distributed by selected Bordeaux negociants, the first Californian wine to be represented in this manner. The company will now for the first time also be selling its wines directly to distributors in the US.