Foley Acquires Sawyer Cellars

Wine investor to expand production and build new winery in Rutherford

by Andrew Adams and Paul Franson
sawyer foley
Bill Foley bought Sawyer Cellars from Charles and Joanne Sawyer, who purchased the property around 1995.
Napa, Calif.—Bill Foley has purchased Sawyer Cellars in Napa Valley, increasing the number of wineries under the Foley Family Wines umbrella to nine.

Foley told Wines & Vines today he plans to rename the winery Foley Johnson after his wife and expand production. Sawyer Cellars currently produces 6,000 cases per year, according to WinesVinesDATA, but is permitted to make 20,000. Foley did not say how much he paid for the winery.

Foley said he also plans on building a bigger winery at the Sawyer Cellars site located in Rutherford. He added that he will adjust the wine style but retain winemaker Brad Warner, who has been winemaker at the winery since the first harvest there in 1999.

Charles and Joanne Sawyer, the founders of the winery, made their first wine in 1991 and purchased the property for the winery four years later. The Sawyers produced an estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Meritage, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Sauvignon Blanc; the average bottle price is $40. 

Foley Family Wines is comprised of Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards & Winery in Healdsburg, Firestone Vineyard in Los Olivos, Foley Estates Vineyard & Winery in Lompoc, Kuleto Estate Winery in St. Helena, Lincourt Vineyards in Solvang, Merus Wines in St. Helena, Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery in Sonoma and Three Rivers Winery—the only winery outside of California—located in Walla Walla, Wash. The entire group of wineries produces 543,000 cases of wine, of which Sebastiani accounts for 300,000.

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