Everyday Exceptional

We build exceptional wine and spirits brands that delight our consumers and support the goals of our business partners.

Founded by Derek Benham in 2001, the company is a brand-led business, with an acclaimed portfolio of wines brands along with several burgeoning spirits brands. Purple Brands is based in Petaluma California, with winery and distillery operations in the Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, and Napa Valley, all Certified Sustainable by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance.

Raeburn
Derek Benham – Chairman & Owner

Derek grew up in California’s San Joaquin Valley where his family tended pistachio groves and vineyards. In the late 1970s, Derek headed west to UC Berkeley where he graduated with degrees in Philosophy and English Literature in 1982. During this time, the business climate in the Bay Area was challenging. Interest rates soared and the job market was grim as Derek entered the wine industry, taking a sales position with a Lodi based winery.

Times were tough and Derek was trying his best to sell wine with little training and no marketing support. Armed with a case of wine, sell sheets, and a phone book, Derek hit the streets and found a niche for his wines in local grocery stores, restaurants, and independent wine shops. Eventually he assumed the role of General Manager, and after six years on the job managed to turn the winery around with sales exceeding several hundred thousand cases. The winery was sold to the former owners of La Crema Winery and Derek moved onto his next wine project.

In 1990, Derek founded the Codera Wine Group and created the Blackstone Merlot brand. Two years later, he purchased the old Hallberg apple cannery in Graton, California which had been converted to a winery in 1979. After seven successful years, Blackstone was sold in 2001, Codera was dissolved, and Derek started Purple Wine Company.

Derek’s intuitive understanding of consumer expectations fueled his interest in several exciting projects. To help cast off the misconception that wine was only to be enjoyed by the privileged, he launched Avalon, the go-to-brand for Cabernet Sauvignon. He also created Mark West and built it into a greatly successful brand, which earned the Impact Hot Brand Award from M. Shanken Communications twice. Derek later sold Mark West to Constellation Brands. In 2013, Derek introduced Raeburn, a Russian River Chardonnay retailing for just under $20. That same year he broke ground on a new distillery at the Graton winery where the company now produces Benham’s Gin & Vodka and Redwood Empire Bourbon, Rye and Blended Whiskey.

When not creating new wine and spirit offerings, Derek is on the slopes skiing or paddling out to catch his next wave. He enjoys traveling with his wife and three children and is especially passionate about Barcelona, Spain. The Benham’s often journey there to soak up the Catalan culture. Derek adores “gin tonics”, Catalonia’s famous cocktail, and loves to share his passion with friends and family.

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Aaron Webb
Aaron Webb

Chief Executive Officer

Steven Urberg
Steven Urberg

Head Winemaker

Carlton Scott
Carlton Scott

Senior Vice President of Sales

Kathleen Murphy
Kathleen Murphy

Vice President, Marketing

Jeff Duckhorn
Jeff Duckhorn

Master Distiller

Jim Shanahan
Jim Shanahan

Vice President of Human Resources

Lauren Patz
Lauren Patz

Master Blender

Pete Brown
Pete Brown

Chief Financial Officer


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