Non-compete deal forces wine maker to sit on product for nearly a decade


Non-competes can be particularly cruel in the food and wine world.

We recently wrote about Oded Brenner, who co-created Max Brenner: Chocolate by the Bald Man but had to wait five long years before launching his radical new concept chocolate shop, Blue Stripes, which uses all of the chocolate pod, including its white pulp, for smoothies.

Now there’s cult Napa wine mogul Dave Phinney, who was forced to wait eight years before he could create a new wine with Zinfandel. That wine, 8 Years in the Desert — which sells for $50 a bottle, if you can get it — is just out.

Phinney made a wine, The Prisoner, mainly from Zinfandel, in 2000. When he sold it in 2008, he agreed not to make another Zinfandel for eight years.

“I’ve learned a lot about Zinfandel, and a lot about myself, in that time,” he says. The wine — Zinfandel with Petite Sirah and Syrah — is for Orin Swift Cellars, which was started with two tons of Zinfandel in 1998.

Phinney also recently launched an American distillery, Savage & Cooke, on Mare Island in Northern California.

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