Constellation Wines US and Franciscan Estates have confirmed the integration plans for the Robert Mondavi business.

As just-drinks reported yesterday, the flagship Robert Mondavi Napa brand and the Robert Mondavi Winery will become a part of Franciscan Estates, Constellation's independent fine wine company. Robert and Margrit Mondavi will continue to serve as ambassadors for the winery.

"Robert Mondavi is a visionary who has built what is undoubtedly one of the world's most recognised brands. We are dedicated to preserving and enhancing the image of the Robert Mondavi brands," said Jon Moramarco, president and CEO of Franciscan Estates. "From a fine wine perspective, with the addition of the Robert Mondavi Winery, our portfolio of fine wines is among the most highly sought after in the world."

Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi, Robert Mondavi Private Selection and Papio, will be marketed and sold by Canandaigua Wine Company, a Constellation Wines US company which is best known for nationally distributed brands such as Vendange, Alice White, Cook's, Almaden and Inglenook. Constellation Wines US will integrate the Woodbridge Winery into its West Coast operation.

As a result of the acquisition, more than 500 employees, equaling approximately 60% of the workforce from The Robert Mondavi Corporation will be joining Constellation in the marketing, sales, production, operations and other departments. Many will continue in temporary transitional roles to assist in the integration process at both divisions.  New organisational structures for Franciscan Estates and Constellation Wines US will be fully in place by the end of the January.

"Constellation is now the leading supplier of premium wine in the country, a significant milestone for our companies," said José Fernandez, president and CEO of Constellation Wines US.  "The addition of the Robert Mondavi brands to our portfolio, which are unrivaled in their consumer recognition and reputation, combined with our global resources, dramatically enhances our scale and breadth and creates new opportunities for growth."

Based on industry sources and company analysis, Constellation is now the #1 wine company in the US on a retail dollar basis, and the #1 premium wine company in the US on a volume basis for wines greater than $5.50, the company said. With the addition of 10m nine-litre cases from the Robert Mondavi acquisition, Constellation's position as the world's largest wine company has been strengthened, with a portfolio of more than 87m nine-litre cases sold annually.

Both Constellation Wines US and Franciscan Estates will expand their sales teams to accommodate the Robert Mondavi brands. Constellation Wines US will expand its current sales group from four to six regional divisions in support of Canandaigua Wine's expanded brand portfolio. In addition, Constellation Wines US has restructured its channel management sales efforts, which represent all of the Constellation Wines US brands. It will consist of off-premise national accounts, on-premise national accounts and the business information group. Constellation Wines US has also formed a new group to manage its international business, maximising its routes to market on a global scale.