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07.22.2013  
 

Lifestyle Winery Buyers Rebounding?

New individual winery sales counter trend of recent years

 
by Paul Franson
 
 
inglewood estate
 
David Edward Sinegal recently purchased the historic Inglewood Estate in St. Helena, Calif. The listed price for the property, which includes 7 vineyard acres and a 5,500-case-per-year winery was $20 million. Photo source: Wine Country Consultants
Napa, Calif.—Individual and “lifestyle” buyers may be creeping back into the wine business. The trend marks a change from 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 to be confused with Inglenook) in the Napa Valley town of St. Helena, Calif., 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, guesthouse, 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, Banks’ wife Ali, and retail entrepreneur Jay Schottenstein and his son Joey.

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

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

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

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

At this year’s Vineyard Economics Seminar, partner Joe Ciatti of Zepponi and Co. summarized other recent vineyard and winery sales involving his company and others.

Gallo makes big moves
E. & J. Gallo was very 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.

Gallo also bought Snows Lake Vineyard in the Red Hills AVA of Lake County, Calif., with 800 acres of red and white wine grape cultivars and Force Canyon Vineyard in Monterey County, Calif., with 377 acres of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, 100-acre Paso Robles Vineyard east of Paso Robles, Calif., planted in red varieties.

Gallo also bought Courtside Cellars, a custom-crush winery in San Miguel, Calif. 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 very active
Another big player is Jackson Family Wines, owner of Kendall-Jackson and many other brands. It added 14 new properties, totaling approximately 2,800 acres. They included Ramal West in the Carneros AVA with 200 planted/350 total acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Jackson also bought Lost Acre Vineyard in California’s Alexander Valley AVA with 49 planted/57 total acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, Yorkville Highlands in the Yorkville Highlands AVA with 118 planted/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/260 total acres in 14 varieties.

In 2013, Jackson Family Wines moved into Oregon by buying approximately 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/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.

Bill Foley makes a huge buy
    Foley buys wine tourism magazine company
     

     
    Foley Family Wines has acquired a controlling interest in Touring & Tasting Marketing and Media, which publishes Touring & Tasting magazine, hosts touringandtasting.com, 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,” Bill Foley, owner of Foley Family Wines, said in a news 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, Calif. “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 Co., owns numerous wineries and lodging properties, many acquired during the past few year.

    Foley Family Wines in Sonoma, Calif., owns Foley Estates (Santa Rita Hills, Calif.), Lincourt Vineyards (Santa Ynez Valley, Calif.), Merus Wines (Napa Valley, Calif.), Chalk Hill (Sonoma County, Calif.), Sebastiani (Sonoma County, Calif.), Kuleto (Napa Valley, Calif.), Altvs (Napa, Calif.), Langtry Estates (Lake County, Calif.), Three Rivers Winery (Walla Walla, Wash.), Firestone Vineyard (Santa Ynez Valley, Calif.), Eos (Paso Robles, Calif.), Vavasour (Marlborough, New Zealand), Clifford Bay (Marlborough, New Zealand).
    P.F.
Bill Foley has been continuing his aggressive acquisition of wineries and vineyards (as well as other businesses; see sidebar). 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+ acres planted/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 the larger Langtry property totalling 23,000 acres.

Foley also bought the Ramal East Vineyard in the Carneros AVA with 206 acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Many other established players 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/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/90 total acres in Bordeaux varieties.

Bill Price bought Gap’s Crown Vineyard in the Sonoma Coast AVA with 138 planted/415 total acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Precept Brands acquired Yamhela vineyard in Oregon with 30 planted/374 total acres, Pinot Noir. The company also purchased a 174-acre property in the Yakima Valley it plans to convert to vineyards.

TGIC Importers bought Sun Chase vineyard in the Sonoma Coast AVA with approximately 42 acres planted/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/160 total acres in Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Ramey Wine Cellars bought Westside Farms in the Russian River AVA, 42 planted/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 invest ed in Washington state’s DeLille Cellars. Bacchus has been investing in many wineries.

Custom wineries also hot properties
Among winery sales, Francis Ford Coppola bought Geyser Peak Winery with approximately 10,000 tons crushing capacity, and Vintage Wine Estates bought Weibel Winery with annual crushing capacity of approximately 4,000 to 5,000 tons. Ciatti said that Vintage was in need of a winery facility due to continued growth and increased production needs of its multiple wine brands.

Ciatti says that Rack & Riddle, a custom-crush facility in Hopland and the last remaining wine asset owned by Entertainment Properties from its abortive venture into wine, is also for sale.

 

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