F Korbel & Bros, a California-based producer of champagnes and sparkling wines, has entered into negotiations to sell Kenwood Vineyards and its related assets in Sonama County to US-based wine marketer Banfi Vintners.

Banfi Vintners chief operating officer Marc Goodrich has confirmed that the company has signed a letter of intent to acquire Kenwood.

The deal includes Kenwood’s estate, winery, vineyards and all other assets.

Banfi Vintners plans to integrate the Kenwood sales team into the Banfi group and add the brand to its portfolio of Riunite, Castello Banfi, Bolla and more.

The sale of Kenwood Vineyards is expected to close in June 2012.

F Korbel & Bros president and owner Gary Heck said the decision to sell Kenwood will allow him to focus the time and resources of his company on the best opportunities for growth with the Korbel brand of California champagne and brandy.

Heck plans to focus his efforts on the Korbel brand.

F Korbel acquired Kenwood Vineyards in its entirety in 1999, which produced 550,000 cases last year.

The acquisition marks the Banfi’s first foray into the California market.

Banfi’s first foray into the US wine came with its 2010 purchase of Washington State’s Pacific Rim.

Pacific Rim was regrouped into a new venture, VinMotion, last November which handles the Pacific Rim brand and Sweet Bliss.

F Korbel will retain Korbel Champagne Cellars and its related assets and the 47-year marketing and sales agreement with Brown-Forman will remain unchanged.

"We’ve been looking at California for quite some time and have explored a number of opportunities," Goodrich said.

"Kenwood was an ideal fit. It’s at over 500,000 cases, which is significant — certainly for a brand from Sonoma. And it’s always had a great reputation."

F Korbel and Bros is comprised of Korbel Champagne Cellars, Kenwood Vineyards, Lake Sonoma Winery, Valley of the Moon Winery and Heck Cellars.

Image: The sale of Kenwood Vineyards is expected to close in June 2012. Photo: xedos4