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Yellow Tail Owners Add to Their Wine Collection

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The owners of Yellow Tail continue to expand their presence in the sleepy wine industry.

W.J. Deutsch & Sons, White Plain, N.Y., announced today that the company's owners Bill and Peter Deutsch have become "significant investors" in the newly formed Ascentia Wine Estates. The company would not reveal the extent of its investment.

According to the terms of the deal, Deustch will become the exclusive sales and marketing agents for the Ascentia portfolio, which includes seven premium brands, among them Covey Run, Ste. Chapelle, Geyser Peak and Buena Vista. The addition of these brands is expected to contribute an estimated 1 million cases in sales the Deutsch's current business.

In addition, the company added that Jim DeBonis, the former COO of Beam Wine Estates, Deerfield, Ill., has been named Ascentia's CEO, and Peter Ekman, formerly the CEO of Wine.com, has been named chief sales and marketing officer.

"The Ascentia Wine Estates portfolio...is the ideal complement to our current range of award-winning producers," said Bill Deutsch, founder and chairman, in a statement. "The great success that we are experiencing with our signature [North American] estate [wines], encouraged us to look for additional North American producers. With the addition of these ultra-premium wine brands we are now able to provide our customers with a comprehensive portfolio of domestic and imported fine wine estates."

The Riesling offerings from Columbia Winery, Covey Run and Ste. Chapelle will give Deutsch control of roughly 15-20% of all Riesling production in the United States. This gives the company a sizeable niche in what CEO Peter Deutsch said in a statement is becoming a "white wine of choices for consumers."

Buena Vista and Gary Farrell are also expected to bolster the healthy number of highly-rated Pinot Noir wines to Deutsch's existing portfolio.

W.J. Deutsch owns the No. 3 wine in the country, Yellow Tail, which sold 8.5 million cases last year, per Impact, New York. Yellow Tail spent $5.9 million on media in 2007, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.