Wines & Vines Home
   
 
Welcome Guest
LOGIN |  CREATE ACCOUNT
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 
 
04.08.2014  
 

Atlas Bears the Weight for Smaller Buyers

Vineyard management company purchases 683 acres in Oregon

 
by Peter Mitham
 
 
calpers vineyard value
 
Atlas Vineyard Management owners Mike Cybulski and Barry Belli recently inked a deal for two parcels previously part of the CalPERS portfolio in Oregon.
McMinnville, Ore.—The unwinding and dispersal of the nearly 5,000 acres of vineyard properties formerly owned by the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) and its partners is complete.

Napa-based Atlas Vineyard Management Inc. announced this week that it had acquired 683 acres at two sites in the Willamette Valley. The properties include the Cooper Creek vineyard, a 300-acre property just west of Monmouth, Ore., and Fern Creek, a 383-acre property near Dallas, Ore.

The purchase is a first for Atlas, which manages approximately 1,900 acres on behalf of clients. A price was not disclosed.

The new acreage gives Atlas the opportunity to supply clients who previously purchased fruit from the vineyards it managed following the dismissal of Premier Pacific Vineyards Inc. as manager of nearly 5,000 acres CalPERS owned through Pacific Vineyard Partners LLC (see “California Fund Ditches Vineyard Managers”). 

“We have this huge customer base,” said Barry Belli, who co-founded Atlas with Mike Cybulski in 2012. “Two years ago we were supplying 1,600 tons of high-quality Pinot—mostly Pinot, but there’s some Chardonnay in there as well—to maybe 40 or 50 high-end Oregon winery clients.…There’s nothing to sell them anymore, and they’re looking for fruit. And we have the opportunity.”

 

 

calpers vineyard value
 
Source : CalPERS Annual Investment Report, 2003-13

Properties formerly owned by CalPERS and institutional investment firm Commonfund of Wilton, Conn., and managed by Premier Pacific—and subsequently Atlas—have been sold off in the past year.

The action kicked off a year ago with Jackson Family Wines’ purchase of 1,080 acres west of Salem, Ore., that had been formerly owned by Commonfund (see “California Cash Flows into Northwest”). The dealings continued, with Jackson Family Wines snapping up CalPERS’ holdings, and Precept Wine Brands acquiring the Yamhela vineyard and, earlier this year, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates acquiring Willakia.

With the purchase of these vineyards removing their fruit from the wider market, Atlas saw its opportunity to acquire properties with which it was familiar.

Belli and Cybulski were both veterans of Premier Pacific, overseeing its financial and vineyard operations, respectively. CalPERS’ dismissal of Premier Pacific in 2011 saw them set up Atlas, winning the contract to manage the vineyards they had helped develop a decade earlier.

“Mike was very involved with the selection and development of those two properties, so we have a very deep knowledge dating back to November 2007, when the properties were actually purchased,” Belli told Wines & Vines. “The timing was right, so we took advantage of that.”

The deals closed earlier this year, but Atlas waited to announce the acquisition until it had ordered vines for the properties and knew when development would be completed. While approximately 123 acres were readied for planting, complete with trellises, prior to the financial crisis, no vines were planted.

Belli said that will change in 2015, when the properties are planted 90% to Pinot Noir and 10% to Chardonnay, with a smidgen of Pinot Gris possible to satisfy a client in California. The new production could come on stream as early as 2017, with upwards of 240 acres potentially producing fruit from 2019 onwards.

The quality of wines made from Oregon fruit, and vineyards in the Northwest generally, is comparable with what vineyards in Napa are yielding, Belli said. But the lower cost adds to the appeal of the fruit.

The point is one Mario Zepponi, a partner at Santa Rosa, Calif.-based Zepponi & Co., made in conversations with Wines & Vines last year, and Belli said it’s one that’s going to continue to drive interest in the Northwest.

“You’re seeing a lot of these big guys looking at the financials and saying, ‘Should we plant another Sonoma vineyard and spend $115,000 an acre, or should we go to Oregon and invest maybe $50,000 an acre?’” Belli said. “You’re going to continue to see the big guys go up and make big programs and improve their overall mix and cost of goods.”

The payoff for the Northwest is not just in greater investment, but a higher profile for local vineyards and the wines their fruit produces, but also in jobs.

Atlas employs close to 10 people in Oregon, and it contracts for farm labor that it hopes to bring in-house in the future.

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 30 - September 1
     
    Columbia Gorge Open House Weekend
     
  • September 5-6
     
    Windy City Wine Festival
     
  • September 11
     
    Women for WineSense "Women in Wine"
     
  • September 12
     
    Direct to Consumer Wine Sales
     
  • 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
 Retail Store Manager
 Centerville, MA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Importing / Purchasing...
 Napa, CA
General Administration and
 Customer Service / Adm...
 Napa, CA
General Administration and
 Visitor Center Represe...
 Napa, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Administrative Assista...
 Santa Rosa, CA
General Administration and
 Assistant General Mana...
 City Of Sonoma, CA
General Administration and
 Tasting Room Associate
 Livermore, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Harvest Help
 Sebastopol, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Customer Service Repre...
 San Rafael, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Business Development M...
 Santa Rosa, CA
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.