MODESTO -- E.&J. Gallo Winery has bought two wine brands in Washington state, its first venture into the Pacific Northwest.
The Modesto-based company paid an undisclosed sum for the Columbia Winery and Covey Run labels from Ascentia Wine Estates.
The two wineries add a combined 250,000 cases to Gallo's annual production, Roger Nabedian, senior vice president and general manager of the premium wine division, said Tuesday.
Gallo, the world's largest winemaker, does not disclose its total volume. Wine Business Monthly estimated it at 80 million cases last year.
Gallo already has taken over production at the wineries, in Woodinville and Sunnyside, Wash.
"We have been watching the Washington wine industry grow for a number of years and consider these wine brands to be a key part of our premium wine strategy moving forward," Nabedian said in a news release. "This purchase will help us expand our footprint and offer our customers wines from the Columbia Valley and Yakima Valley appellations."
For most of its 79-year history, Gallo has been a producer of low-priced wines from San Joaquin Valley grapes. In the past two decades, it has expanded into Napa, Sonoma and other premium regions in California. It also imports wine from eight countries on four continents.
Washington is a distant second to California in U.S. wine production. Gallo's new properties are in a region east of the Cascade Mountains that has the hot days and cool nights suited to premium grape growing.
Columbia Valley was founded in 1962 as Associated Vintners. Its Web site displays a "core series" of wines priced from $12 to $17, and others as high as $50.
Covey Run, which dates to 1982, has products from $8 to $26.
Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2385.