Markham Vineyards

Markham Vineyards winery is just north of St. Helena on Highway 29. This photo was taken in 2015.

In one swoop, a mid-sized Larkspur wine company is carving out a sizeable corner of Napa wine, acquiring a pair of weighty wineries and a swath of vineyards.

Distinguished Vineyards & Wine Partners announced on Wednesday its purchase of Markham Vineyards and TEXTBOOK, adding the two Napa names to a portfolio of Sonoma, Oregon and New Zealand wines in separate purchases. Neither winery’s sale price was disclosed.

The purchases included an internal acquisition from Distinguished Vineyards’ parent company, Kirin Brewery Company of Japan, for the brick-and-mortar winery and vineyards of Markham, and the purchase of the TEXTBOOK brand from Scenic Root Winegrowers, the company of TEXTBOOK founders Jonathan and Susan Pey.

Formed in 2008 and based in Marin County, Distinguished Vineyards & Wine Partners is the U.S. arm of Australia beverage company Lion, another subsidiary of Kirin.

Known for its pioneering of high-end Merlot since 1980, Markham Vineyards’ Napa roots trace to more than a century earlier when Bordeaux immigrant Jean Laurent built the original winery building, which was included in the sale to Distinguished Vineyards.

Operating as Markham Vineyards since 1978, the winery sold to Kirin subsidiary the Mercian Corporation in 1988. Though trading hands between subsidiaries, the transaction was structured as an acquisition, said Steve Myers, managing director of Distinguished Vineyards.

Myers said Wednesday that the purchase was “an opportunity for us to better collaborate with our two North American wine businesses.”

The sale also includes Markham’s 350 acres of vineyards across the Oak Knoll, Yountville and Calistoga sub-appellations, and the winery’s inventory. David Flanary and Kimberlee Nicholls will stay on as Markham’s president and winemaker, respectively. Senior adviser and former president Bryan Del Bondio will also continue at Markham, carrying on a 41-year career that began as the winery’s first employee.

The purchase not only adds the pair of sound Napa assets to the company’s portfolio, but also rounds out its mix of sparkling wines, Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays with Markham’s Merlot and the acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignon from TEXTBOOK.

Founded in 2004, Jonathan and Susan Pey’s TEXTBOOK brand has caught the eyes of critics and consumers alike, evinced by a 40 percent jump in sales last year and distribution among 46 states and six countries, records show. Under Distinguished Vineyards, and by extension the distribution network of Kirin, TEXTBOOK can now make its way to all 50 states, all provinces in Canada and eight countries, Myers said.

Jonathan Pey will continue making TEXTBOOK’s wines post-acquisition, alongside consulting winemaker Scott Peterson.

In a press release Wednesday, Pey said, “I am very excited to partner with the Distinguished Vineyards team, many of whom I’ve worked with before … TEXTBOOK has found a great home with Distinguished Vineyards.”

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Wine Reporter / Copy Editor

Henry Lutz covers the local wine industry. He has been a reporter and copy editor for the Register since 2016.