Napa Valley’s historic Oakville Grocery has been sold.
Jean-Charles Boisset has added the grocery store to his collection, purchasing it from the Rudd family, which has owned it for the past 11 years. The sale will close in early 2019. The purchase price was not disclosed.
The sale includes the Oakville store and property, the Healdsburg location, and the brand from the Rudd family, proprietors of Rudd Estate and Press Restaurant, who completed significant restoration of the Oakville property, grocery store, and adjacent Victorian house during their ownership. It joins Boisset’s family-owned portfolio of historical wineries and lifestyle and gourmet retail destinations.
On Dec. 5, Boisset, proprietor of Boisset Collection, said he plans to evolve the grocery store into local, sustainable and organic food. “We will focus on health and what makes us great,” he said.
Additionally, the Oakville Grocery will offer “an incredible assort of wines. I’d like to bring all our friends and guests to our table,” he added. He sees the grocery as becoming a plaza, where people gather throughout the day, whether for coffee in the morning or lunch at mid day, for conversation.
“I have always adored the Oakville Grocery for what it represents for Napa Valley, for California and for America. I have fond memories of visiting from France with my parents and sister when I was 11 years old,” he said. Purchased that day were mustard, local fig jam – there were few fig trees in France, he said – organic tomatoes, an “amazing tomato sauce and pasta” and great, local cheeses, including a goat cheese.
In the late 2000s, when Boisset bought Raymond Winery, he said he spent “thousands of dollars” on wine at the grocery, to understand what the Napa Valley was all about.
After the sale has closed, he added he will be at the grocery store a lot – not behind a cash register – because, “I feel at home there, I feel centered, and being there, I have the opportunity to start a conversation.”
With its history – the Oakville Grocery was founded in 1881 and is the oldest grocery store in California – Boisset said he couldn’t resist buying the historic property.
“It is a landmark and iconic destination at the crossroads of history in Napa that has been the community gathering place, mercantile, farm stand, and grocery for neighbors and visitors alike for well over a century. The Rudd family have been remarkable stewards, believing in its past and future, and infusing the property with the passion, care and respect it deserves. We are exceptionally honored to be entrusted to carry forward this timeless property and continue their dreams,” he said in a press release.
Samantha Rudd, proprietor of Rudd Estate and PRESS Restaurant, said, “Oakville Grocery has been a staple of Napa Valley since 1881. My family purchased it in 2007 in order to revive the illustrious historical store that has meant so much to this community. My father’s vision was to restore it to its rightful place in California wine country, and to ensure that its legacy remained for the local and tourist community for decades to come. Our family invested significantly in the site and the store, including a restoration to the historic Victorian house in Oakville, to achieve his vision. I am proud of my father’s stewardship.”
Samantha’s father, Leslie Gerald Rudd, passed away on May 3, 2018 in New York City at age 76 after a battle with esophageal cancer. He was a vintner, entrepreneur, businessman and philanthropist, who founded The Rudd Group. One of his friends, venture capitalist and former tech executive, Joe Schoendorf, said Rudd rescued the Oakville Grocery from bankruptcy in 2007, not because of its investment potential, but because he saw it as “an important institution” to preserve for the Napa Valley and its visitors.
For many years, Rudd owned the grocery chain, Dean & DeLuca, which has a store in St. Helena. He sold the chain to a Thai development company in 2014.
Samantha Rudd said the sale allows her to focus on Rudd Estate and Press Restaurant, “knowing that Oakville Grocery is in good hands.”
Oakville Grocery joins Boisset Collection’s historical wineries and destinations in California and France, including Buena Vista Winery, founded in 1857 as the first premium winery in California. Boisset’s portfolio is anchored in history, heritage and terroir in Napa, Sonoma, Burgundy, Jura, Beaujolais, the Rhône Valley and the South of France.