Napa, Calif.-based winemaker Chalone (NASDAQ:CHLN) said Friday afternoon that it brought in Thomas Weisel Partners to help evaluate Domaines Barons de Rothschild's mid-May offer to buy it out for $9.25 per share in cash. It's a simple enough story on the surface, but it's part of an interesting larger deal and comes at an intriguing time for bottle-and-cork investors.

Domaines Barons de Rothschild, which owns 46% of Chalone, wants to buy the rest of the company and merge it with the assets of Huneeus Vintners and Constellation Brands (NYSE:STZ). This will create a large and powerful high-end wine organization run by Agustin Francisco Huneeus, who himself recently left Constellation, where he ran the Franciscan Estates brand his family sold to the company, presumably to put the Chalone deal together. (Got that?)

The deal certainly seems to make strategic sense. However, that's never really been the draw for Chalone investors: The company has long catered to wine enthusiasts, who flock to its clubby annual meetings and appreciate the rich discounts and other perks that come with share ownership. (Given the privileges, one might forgive the shares' underperformance relative to the S&P 500 over the last 10 years.)

Notably, however, the Huneeus group intends to give current Chalone owners similar "club" rights in the new company. If Chalone does sell, it will mark a second notable wine deal in 2004. In late April, we covered the battle for Golden State Vintners (NASDAQ:VINT), which had to decide between offers from the Wine Group and a management-led group; a few days later, the company settled on the Wine Group offer.

The action these days is largely in the higher range of the wine spectrum, where companies are looking to build scale and generate efficiencies in order to get better distribution for their higher-margin product lines. The firms that build strong organizations now should be well placed to benefit from a prolonged economic recovery.

Fool contributor Dave Marino-Nachison doesn't own any of the companies in this story.