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Truett-Hurst reports sales up 5 percent

  • Truett-Hurst Inc. creative director Kevin Shaw with its newly launched Paperboy Winery, Paso Robles Blend, wine in paper bottles, in Healdsburg on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013. (CHRISTOPHER CHUNG/Press Democrat)

Healdsburg wine company Truett-Hurst rolled out several new brands in the first quarter of its fiscal year, helping to boost sales 5 percent.

Despite continuing growth, the company Thursday reported a net loss of $33,000, or a penny per share, for the quarter ending Sept. 30.

Net sales rose to $5.4 million, up from $5.2 million at the same time last year.

“We're pleased to see that we've exceeded analyst expectations as it relates to sales,” CEO Phil Hurst told investors in a conference call.

Investment banker Bill Hambrecht, a part-owner of the company, disclosed he will be leaving its board of directors.

In an interview, Hambrecht, 78, said he wants to make more time for personal activities and that he hopes to spend more time at his property in Dry Creek Valley.

“Frankly, I'm trying to reduce my own personal involvement in the investments that I'm in,” Hambrecht said. “I've been bringing in younger people to take over the management of the businesses that I've had.”

Lawsuits filed against Hambrecht and reports of substantial unpaid debts did not influence his decision to leave the board, he said.

“It's a long story, but it's pretty well resolved,” Hambrecht said about the lawsuits. “That hasn't anything to do with it.”

Hambrecht, who remains one of four principal shareholders in Truett-Hurst, said he is happy with the company's performance.

In the first quarter of its new fiscal year, Truett-Hurst launched several brands including California Square, which comes in a square wine bottle, Paso Ranches and Trader Joe's Petit Rose.

The company is seeking to carve out an identity with innovative packaging following the launch last year of its “Evocative Wrapped Bottles,” which were wrapped in a foil-like paper to mark special occasions.

This week, Truett-Hurst announced the launch of “Paperboy,” a brand packaged in bottles made of recycled cardboard with a plastic liner.

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