Wines & Vines Home
   
 
Welcome Guest
LOGIN |  CREATE ACCOUNT
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 
 
08.20.2012  
 

New Owners for Valley of the Moon Winery

West Coast families hope acquisition of Sonoma vineyard to be first of many

 
by Peter Mitham
 
 
valley of the moon dan zepponi tony stewart
 
Dan Zepponi and Tony Stewart, the new owners of Valley of the Moon Winery, hope to own several West Coast winery properties.
Glen Ellen, Calif.—Sonoma's Valley of the Moon Winery is the first acquisition on what could be a West Coast acquisition trail for Calfornia’s Zepponi and British Columbia’s Stewart families.

Speaking to Wines & Vines in the first media interview regarding the acquisition, Dan Zepponi of West Coast Wine Partners LLC said Valley of the Moon is a good fit for the kind of properties the company hopes to assemble from California north to British Columbia.

“We weren’t looking for a lifestyle buy, we were looking for something we could build as a business,” Zepponi said. “This one kind of hit on all cylinders.”

Zepponi said the deal with Korbel Wine Estates went from offer to close in 45 days—lightning speed for an acquisition. West Coast Wine Partners was in competition with Banfi, which this spring announced its plan to acquire Kenwood Vineyards from Korbel. Banfi pulled out of both deals at the last minute, clearing the way for West Coast Wine Partners to complete the deal uncontested.

60-acre property
Valley of the Moon is a 60-acre property with 41 acres of vineyards and annual production of 35,000 cases. Zepponi did not disclose a purchase price but said there was consideration for goodwill in respect of the property’s extensive history—an element West Coast Wine Partners hopes to leverage in developing the property.

“It’s really got that rooted sense of place,” Zepponi said.

The name Valley of the Moon—a translation of the original native meaning of Sonoma, popularized by Jack London’s novel The Valley of the Moon (1913)—was given to the winery in 1941 by the Parducci family. A winery was first established on the property in 1863, and it had several owners through the years, including the Hearst family.

Korbel acquired the property in 1997, but it was largely a secondary production facility for the group.

“We’re really excited about being able to take it to the top-quality Sonoma production it should be,” Zepponi told Wines & Vines. “Relative to their overall portfolio it was tiny, so it didn’t get as much attention. Relative to ours, it’s the centrepiece, so it’s going to get a lot of attention.”

Zepponi said the property will be repositioned as an estate winery, with grapes from its blocks of 80-year-old head-trained Zinfandel vines channeled into upper-tier single-block lots. Similar distinction will be given to fruit supplied by growers in Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley and Los Carneros AVAs.

The acquisition also includes the Lake Sonoma brand, which Zepponi said will continue to produce a line of appellation-specific wines that showcase what Sonoma has to offer.

“We believe the real future, outside commoditized wines, is celebrating a sense of place, and something unique,” he said.

Scott McLeod, formerly of Francis Ford Coppola’s Rubicon Estate, will be consulting winemaker, working with Valley of the Moon’s Greg Winter to set a direction for the new owners’ wines.

“Anything we bottle and blend from here on out will have Scott’s signature,” Zepponi said.

Quails’ Gate owners
The deal for Valley of the Moon is the culmination of a three-year quest driven in large part by the Stewart family. Speaking to Wines & Vines in April 2010 (see headline, “British Columbia Winery Looks South”), Tony Stewart, whose family owns Quails’ Gate Estate Winery near Kelowna, B.C., said he had investigated opportunities in the Oak Knoll and Stag’s Leap districts of Napa, and in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley and Russian River Valley AVAs. Stewart expected to spend between $5 million and $25 million to buy a 10,000-case winery sourcing 60% to 80% of its grapes from its own properties.

The launch of Plume last year, which now has an annual production of 2,000 cases, was a first step, driven largely by a lack of available properties in the price range Stewart and Zepponi had targeted (see Wines & Vines headline, “Napa, Okanagan Unite for Wine Venture.”)

The acquisition in Sonoma is another step, and Zepponi said additional deals are planned. The first will likely be for a winery site in Napa to accommodate Plume, which has room to grow to 6,000 cases and more, but other regions are also in the partners’ sights.

“We believe there are specific appellations in the wine regions of the West Coast of North America that are unique and distinctive and what we want to do is explore those,” Zepponi said. “As we get everything up and running and tuned up, we’ll look for things out of Washington, out of Oregon, maybe out of the Paso Robles area, building a company that can celebrate a portfolio of complementary viticultural areas up and down the West Coast.”

Northwest areas of interest are the Willamette and Yakima valleys.

&ldqu o;I’d say over the next five or seven years we’d hope to see another couple of opportunities,” Zepponi said.

SHARE »
Close
 
Currently no comments posted for this article.
 
CURRENT NEWS INDEX »


 
Wines & Vines Home
 
866.453.9701 | 415.453.9700 | Fax: 415.453.2517
65 Mitchell Blvd., Ste. A San Rafael, CA 94903
info@winesandvines.com
Wine Industry Metrics
 
Off-Premise Sales » Month   12 Months  
July 2014 $557 million
5%
$7,577 million
6%
July 2013 $533 million $7,128 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
July 2014 $61 million
9%
$1,674 million
10%
July 2013 $56 million $1,517 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
July 2014 312
10%
222
19%
July 2013 283 187
     
 
MORE » Released on 08.15.2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
 
Search the PWV archive »
 
 

Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
2014
 
Download full report »
 
 

CALENDAR
  • August 29-31
     
    Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
     
  • August 30 - September 1
     
    Columbia Gorge Open House Weekend
     
  • September 5-6
     
    Windy City Wine Festival
     
  • September 11
     
    Women for WineSense "Women in Wine"
     
  • MORE »
 

READER COMMENTS
 
Article: Ledger David names first winemaker »
 
What a joy to have Kiley on the team! A lot of exciting things happening...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Useful Spanish for Wine Harvest »
 
you misspelled "zona" under Loading Area
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Early 2014 Grape Harvest Begins »
 
Thanks for mentioning Temecula and the South Coast appellation in your article. It is great...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Wineries May Lose Internet Domain Dispute »
 
All these arguments could be levied by any industry associated with any gTLD, new or...
Reader: Doug Barnett
 
Article: Wineries May Lose Internet Domain Dispute »
 
Do brands get hijacked now? Even though .wine does not yet exist, are there false...
Reader: Larry Chandler
 
 


Directory/Buyer's Guide — Your Wine Industry Marketplace
 
 
WINERY SEARCH
 
 
Advanced Search »
SUPPLIER SEARCH
   by Product
 by Company Name or Brand
 
Browse by Category »
2014 Directory/Buyer's Guide
The Wines & Vines Directory and Buyer's Guide
 
 
EXPANDED ONLINE SEARCH INCLUDED WITH PURCHASE
 
ORDER NOW »
 
LEARN MORE »
 
 
Wines & Vines Magazine
 
 
LEARN MORE »
 
SUBSCRIBE »
 
Digital Edition Now Available!
Wines & Vines Digital Edition Now Available
 
LEARN MORE »
 
ORDER NOW »
 
 
The Wines & Vines Online Marketing System
 
The Industry Standard winery marketing application
 
FREE LIVE DEMO »
 
VIEW VIDEO »
 
 
 
 
Latest Job Listings
 Accountant - Full Time
 Napa, CA
Finance
 Assistant Winemaker
 Cowaramup, Wa, NA
Winemaking and Production
 Vintage 2015 Employmen...
 Clare, Sa, NA
Winemaking and Production
 Retail Sales Position
 New York, NY
Sales and Marketing
 Manager, Field Sales ...
 Los Angeles, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Compliance Coordinator
 Newberg, OR
Finance
 Staff Accountant
 Newberg, OR
Finance
 Wine Sales Associate/A...
 Madison, CT
Sales and Marketing
 Manager, Bottling Main...
 Madera, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Fine Wine Sales Rep
 Greater Boston, MA
Sales and Marketing
 
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:
 
 





Home  |  About Us  |  Editors  |  Subscribe  |  Print Edition  |  Digital Edition

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
 
 
Copyright © 2001-2014 by Wine Communications Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
No material may be reproduced without written permission of the Publisher.
Wines&Vines does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited manuscripts or materials.