Large Private Wineries Continue Acquisitions

2017 off to promising start as brands, vineyards and production facilities change hands

by Paul Franson
wine vineyard
Francis Ford Coppola purchased 100 acres of the Silverwood Ranch property to grow grapes for its Archimedes brand in one of several recent wine industry transactions.

Napa, Calif.—E. & J. Gallo Winery isn’t the only large, privately owned wine company continuing the acquisition game. So far this spring:

•    Delicato bought the huge Blossom Hill winery in Paicines, Calif.
•    WX Brands acquired the Jamieson Ranch and Bread & Butter brands.
•    Francis Ford Coppola bought Silverwood Vineyard.
•    Trinchero bought the rest of the Taken brand from Josh Phelps.

Delicato Family Vineyards buys Blossom Hill Winery
Napa-headquartered Delicato Family Vineyards bought the Blossom Hill Winery in San Benito County, Calif., from Treasury Wine Estates, which inherited the site when it acquired Diageo’s wine brands and property.

The winery, to be renamed Alba Coast Winery, is in the warm Paicines AVA south of Hollister. Treasury kept the adjoining vineyards.

The Alba Coast Winery provides Delicato with an additional 20,000 to 30,000 tons of capacity, or production of up to 4 million cases.

CEO Chris Indelicato said that the company will ship about 10 million equivalent cases this year and is growing at a rate of about 1 million cases per year, so Paicines’ extra capacity will soon be needed.

He noted that the plant, which once supplied Almadén wine, had been extensively restored and upgraded. “It’s now state of the art and very efficient,” Indelicato said.

The acquisition does not include any brands but will be used to support the growth of Delicato’s premium and ultra-premium wines from its San Bernabe and Santa Lucia Highlands vineyards in Monterey County, including Noble Vines, Gnarly Head, Z. Alexander Brown, Diora and Irony.

The acquisition is part of Delicato’s premiumization and growth strategy. The company also recently bought half of Sonoma's V2 Wine Group luxury importer and marketing company, and Indelicato says it will probably buy the rest in a few years and is looking at acquisitions in Europe.

WX buys Jamieson Ranch and Bread & Butter brand
Private-label wine supplier WX Brands of Novato, Calif., formerly Winery Exchange, has acquired the 80,000-case Jamieson Ranch Vineyards portfolio of brands and the 70,000-case Bread & Butter wine brand, both produced in Napa Valley.

These brands join WX brand Chronic Cellars from Paso Robles and the organic, preservative-free label Our Daily Wines, though the company’s major business is private-label wines, beer and spirit for retailers.

The Jamieson Ranch Vineyards portfolio was owned by Bill Leigon and three other investors, who bought the brand in September 2015. It includes the Double Lariat, Reata, Whiplash and Light Horse brands.

The Jamieson Ranch winery and vineyard property are owned by Ken Laird and his family. WX will continue to produce the wine in the winery.

Leigon will remain brand ambassador for the wines for at least two years, and Jamieson Ranch winemaker Juan José Verdina has joined WX.

Bread & Butter was co-owned by Alcohol by Volume, (which also produced Alias Wines, Aviary Napa Valley, Des Amis, Le Mistral, Manifesto Wine Cellars and State of Art wines) and Fior di Sole, owner of Ca’ Momi. Its CEO, Gregory Ahn, is president & CEO at Folktale Winery & Vineyards, which is based in the Carmel Valley at the former Chateau Julien winery.

The wine is produced by Napa custom winery Fior di Sole, which will continue to make wine for WX.

Oren Lewin, senior vice president of marketing and strategy at WX, said Bread and Butter has become one of the Top 30 super-premium brands in the United States in just three years. Nielsen ranked it No. 27 among $12-$15 brands for the 52 weeks ending Jan. 28.

“Bread & Butter grew over 70% in 2016; it has really struck a chord with consumers,” Lewin said.

He seemed assured of grape supply, pointing out that WX is assuming some of Jamieson’s grape contracts, and Fior di Sole will continue sourcing and making the Bread & Butter wines.

Winery Exchange was founded 17 years ago and its annual sales have grown to 1.42 million cases, which would make it No. 17 of the top 30 wineries by case sales, according to Wine Business Monthly’s annual list.

The company makes more than 80 exclusive brands for domestic retailers and those abroad, particularly in the U.K.

It owns a bottling line in Sonoma County but contracts out to wineries, breweries and distillers for products for retailers such as Whole Foods, Kroger, BevMo, Walmart and Total Wine & More.

The company changed its name to WX about a year ago, when it started producing spirits and beer as well as wine, but wine remains most of its business.

Francis Ford Coppola buys Silverwood Vineyard
Vintner Francis Ford Coppola purchased 100 acres of the 1,200-acre Silverwood Ranch in the Pine Mountain-Cloverdale Peak AVA from Barry and Jackie Hoffner. The property is a key source of grapes for Coppola’s flagship Archimedes brand.

The AVA straddles the Sonoma-Mendocino county line and includes the northern tip of the Alexander Valley AVA.

The property contains 10.5 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon vines and 2.5 acres of Malbec on the Sonoma County side on the slopes of Pine Mountain at 1,800-3,000 feet. Coppola has renamed it Archimedes Vineyard after Coppola’s uncle and the brand.

“This is our first step in a strategic shift to focus on vineyard acquisitions, selecting parcels and vineyard blocks that reflect the county’s distinctive terroir and heritage,” said Steve Spadarotto, CEO of The Family Coppola, the umbrella organization for Coppola’s ventures.

Coppola’s wineries include Francis Ford Coppola Winery and the former Geyser Peak Winery (now Virginia Dare Winery) in Sonoma County and Inglenook Winery in Napa Valley.

Josh Phelps sells Taken Wine Co. to Trinchero
Trinchero Family Estates is buying Josh Phelps’ share of Taken Wine Co. Trinchero already was producing the Millennial-oriented Taken, Complicated and Available wines for Phelps and his business partner, Carlo Trinchero.

Trinchero Estates’ CEO Roger Trinchero is Carlo’s father. Carlo Trinchero has been director of fine wine for the company.

Phelps plans to create his own Napa Valley wine company.



Currently no comments posted for this article.