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Winery sales

Winery sales

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It looks like individual and “lifestyle” buyers may be creeping back into the wine business after recent years when most sales and acquisitions in the wine business were made by established wine companies adding acreage to ensure future supply of grapes.

Some recent purchases bucked that trend:

David Edward Sinegal, the son of Costco co-founder and former CEO James Sinegal, bought the historic Inglewood Estate (not Inglenook) in St. Helena in Napa Valley for about $20 million.

The deal includes 30 acres, 7 acres in vines, a stone winery with tasting room, a 5,500-case permit, main residence, guest house, pool, tennis court, lake, olive orchard and gardens. The new name is Sinegal Family Estate.

In April, Bob Travers sold 465-acre Mayacamas Vineyards to Charles Banks of San Francisco-based private equity firm Terroir Capital LLC, his wife, Ali, and retail entrepreneur Jay Schottenstein and his son, Joey.

Bank is a former co-owner of Screaming Eagle. He has hired Andy Erickson, who once made that cult winery’s $750 red, as winemaker for Mayacamas.

Banks also recently bought 50 percent of Sonoma’s Wind Gap Vineyards.

In May, Golden Equity Investments, owned by the Coors family, bought Goosecross Cellars in Yountville in Napa Valley, one of many acquisitions involving broker Zepponi and Company.

Also, in June 2012, a Chinese business executive bought Napa Valley’s Bialla Vineyards for $3.2 million.

Gallo makes big moves

E & J Gallo was aggressive in buying vineyard land and wineries in 2012. It moved into Washington state by buying Covey Run/Columbia Winery. Their brands account for annual sales of approximately 250,000 cases.

It also bought Snows Lake Vineyard in the Red Hills AVA of Lake County with 800 acres of red and white varieties and Force Canyon Vineyard in Monterey County with 377 acres of chardonnay and pinot noir, 100-acre Paso Robles Vineyard east of Paso Robles planted in red varieties.

Gallo also bought Courtside Cellars custom crush winery in San Miguel. Ciatti said that buying the 60,000-ton modern winemaking facility lets Gallo expand its Central Coast Edna Valley Vineyard and Bridlewood brands.

Jackson Family active

Another big player is Jackson Family Estates, owner of Kendall Jackson and many other brands. It added 14 properties, totaling approximately 2,800 acres. They included Ramal West in the Carneros AVA with 200 planted of 350 total acres of pinot noir and chardonnay.

Jackson also bought Lost Acre Vineyard in the Alexander Valley AVA with 49 planted of 57 total acres of cabernet sauvignon, Yorkville Highlands in Yorkville Highlands AVA with 118 planted of 600 total acres of pinot noir, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, petite syrah, merlot, petite verdot, viognier and zinfandel, and Saralee’s Vineyard in the Russian River Valley AVA with 200 planted of 260 total acres in 14 varieties.

In 2013, Jackson Family Wines moved into Oregon by buying about 1,350 acres in the Willamette Valley, instantly making it Oregon’s largest vineyard owner.

The property acquired included Zena East and Zena Middle vineyards in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA with 42 acres of pinot noir, unplanted Maple Grove in the Willamette Valley AVA, and the Zena West vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA with approximately 40 acres planted of 88 total acres, and Gran Moraine vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA with approximately 195 acres planted of 463 total acres.

Jackson also bought Buena Vista’s former Ramal Winery in Carneros, but not the brand (or old stone winery in Sonoma), which Jean-Charles Boisset bought.

Established vineyards active

Other sales in 2012 and so far this year by companies and individuals already in the wine business:

Duckhorn Vineyards in Napa Valley bought Ridgeline Vineyard in the Alexander Valley AVA with 89 planted of 409 total acres of cabernet sauvignon and other Bordeaux red grape varieties.

Paul Hobbs bought Tourmaline Vineyard in the Coombsville AVA of southern Napa County with 63 planted of 90 total acres in Bordeaux varieties.

Bill Price bought Gap’s Crown Vineyard in the Sonoma Coast AVA with 138 planted of 415 total acres of pinot noir and chardonnay.

Precept Brands acquired Yamhela vineyard in Oregon with 30 planted of 374 total acres of pinot noir.

TGIC Importers bought Sun Chase vineyard in the Sonoma Coast AVA with approximately 42 acres planted of 248 total acres of pinot noir and chardonnay.

Silverado Premium Properties bought Sugarloaf West vineyard in the Suscol Bench area of south Napa with, approximately 100 planted of 160 total acres in merlot, cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon.

Ramey Wine Cellars bought Westside Farms in the Russian River AVA, 42 planted of 75 total acres in chardonnay and pinot noir.

Tri-Valley Vineyard bought 87 planted acres in Livermore with cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, petite sirah, zinfandel, syrah and merlot.

In May, Bacchus Capital Management, a private equity fund specializing in the wine business and founded in 2007 by Sam Bronfman, Peter S. Kaufman and Henry F. Owsley, acquired Oregon’s Panther Creek Cellars and invested in Washington State’s DeLille Cellars. Bacchus has been investing in many wineries.

Bill Foley makes a huge buy

Bill Foley has been continuing his aggressive acquisition of wineries and vineyards. Most impressively, he bought the majority of Langtry Estate & Vineyards in Lake County north of Napa County, which owns the historic Guenoc brand. It includes 250-plus acres planted of more than 2,000 plantable in cabernet sauvignon and other grapes. Some of the land is in Napa County. Foley also bought a minority stake in larger Langry property totally 23,000 acres.

Foley also bought the Ramal East Vineyard in the Carneros AVA with 206 acres of pinot noir and chardonnay.

Foley Family Wines has acquired a controlling interest in Touring & Tasting Marketing and Media, which publishes Touring & Tasting magazine, hosts, produces the Wine Country Video Channel, and owns a wine country concierge service and conducts a wine cruise program.

Touring & Tasting Marketing & Media was founded by managing partner Dan Fox and president Paul Arganbright in 1995.

“Foley Family Wines is fully committed to the growth and success of wine tourism globally,” said Bill Foley, owner of Foley Family Wines in a release. “… Partnering with Touring & Tasting will help us continue to help fuel that growth.”

Fox added, “We now have the resources required to further expand and diversify Touring & Tasting ... We’ll immediately be expanding our audience through increased distribution in print, online and through our mobile apps and digital editions. We’ll also be creating new content syndication partnerships and building and providing more tools to help our clients be more competitive.”

Touring & Tasting Marketing & Media is based in Santa Barbara. “There are no other plans for changes in staffing or in the way Touring & Tasting operates,” Fox reports.

Bill Foley, chairman of Fidelity National Title Insurance Company, owns numerous wineries and lodging properties, many acquired in the last few year.

Foley Family Wines in Sonoma owns Foley Estates in Santa Rita Hills, Lincourt Vineyards (Santa Ynez Valley), Merus (Napa Valley), Chalk Hill (Sonoma County), Sebastiani (Sonoma County), Kuleto (Napa Valley), Altvs (Napa), Langtry Estates (Lake County)Three Rivers Winery (Walla Walla), Firestone Vineyard (Santa Ynez Valley), Eos (Paso Robles), Vavasour (Marlborough, New Zealand), Clifford Bay (Marlborough, New Zealand).

Custom wineries also hot properties

Among winery sales, Francis Ford Coppola bought Geyser Peak Winery with about 10,000 tons crushing capacity, and Vintage Wine Estates bought Weibel Winery with annual crushing capacity of 4,000 to 5,000 tons.

Joe Ciatti of Zepponi and Company, a major player in winery mergers and acquisitions, says that Rack & Riddle, a custom crush facility in Hopland is also for sale. It’s the last remaining wine asset owned by Entertainment Properties from its abortive venture into wine.

Email Paul Franson at

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