Richard Arrowood is the latest to leave his namesake. He’s opting out of his long-term gig at Arrowood Vineyards & Winery in Glen Ellen to focus on his newest venture, Amapola Creek. The ultra-premium winery, founded in 2007, produces organically farmed, small lot cabernet sauvignon, syrah and zinfandel from Sonoma Valley. (I came across the zin in a blind tasting and it was outstanding.)
Arrowood joins a growing list of powerful people in Wine Country who have sold partial or full rights to their name, which leaves them in a peculiar position – a split identity of sorts. Others include the late Robert Mondavi, Gary Farrell, John Ash, Kent Rosenblum, Charles Shaw and Laura Chenel.
Do they have sellers’ remorse? Do they keep tabs on what their namesake is doing? Do they feel as though they’ve been cloned?
Farrell, who resigned in 2006, was candid about his exit at the time. He said, “I found it difficult to work within the framework of a large corporation, and struggled with young, inexperienced middle-managers who always seemed to have a ‘better way’ to run our business … it was often very difficult to get even the smallest thing done because of the number of people who needed to be involved in the decision-making process.”
Arrowood may have endured even more frustration with four different corporate owners since 2000. Arrowood initially sold to the Robert Mondavi Corp., which was purchased by Constellations Brands, which sold the winery to The Legacy Estates Group, which went bankrupt, eventually selling Arrowood to Jackson Family Wines in 2006.
Regarding his recent departure, Arrowood said, “I strongly believe in quality without compromise and prefer to make just a few fine gems.”
What do you make of all this namesake selling? Would you sell your name and if so … how do you think you’d fare with a split identity?