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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Sonoma County 2015 - The Year in Acquisitions

Sonoma County, and next door in Napa, saw a number of local drinks businesses change hands. A couple of the big boys, Gallo and Constellation Brands, were the main players.

January

Siduri Winery
A small, well-respected, husband-and-wife Pinot Noir producer sold to Kendall Jackson. Adam Lee will stay on and continue making the wines for awhile. There's no vineyard land or other property involved so K-J is buying the label and reputation. Pinot is hot!

March

J Vineyards
Founded 30 years ago by Judy Jordon of the Jordan Winery family (a top-notch Cabernet producer in Sonoma County). J, known for sparkling wine and Pinot Noir, was sold to Gallo. The sale included 300 acres of land. There was a mass changeover of employees so we'll see what the future brings. Using the money from the purchase Judy Jordan buys Oregon's Chehalem Mountain Vineyard, one of the oldest Pinot Noir growers in the Willamette Valley.

June

Lagunitas Brewery
The founder of one of the top ten craft breweries in the country sold half of his interest to Heineken. He has big expansion plans and this will give him the money for it. Hopefully, Tony Magee won't lose control of the beer making.

Benziger & Imagery Wineries
A pair of family wineries in Sonoma Valley sold to a California winery conglomerate called The Wine Group. A second generation family member, Mike Benziger, 63, was running their Benziger and Imagery wineries (there are seven siblings total). Rather than pass them down in the family the wineries were sold.
Some of the next generation of Benzigers, owners of Envolve Winery, sold that business in Jan 2016.

Meiomi, Napa Valley
Constellation Brands bought the label and wine, but there was no land or facilities involved in the sale. It's all about the rise in popularity of Pinot Noir.

July

B.R. Cohn
This Sonoma Valley family winery sold to a local winery company, Vintage Wine Estates. The owner was in debt, 68 years old, and ready to get out.

Asti Winery and the Souverain Brand
Asti is an old, historic and, most importantly, a large production facility. Purchased by Gallo from troubled Treasury Wine. Gallo is looking for more capacity (also see The Ranch Winery below).

December

The Ranch Winery, Napa Valley
This is a custom crush facility used by many Napa area wineries. Gallo purchased The Ranch Winery to give it a place for expansion into the premium wine market.

Other Acquisitions

Besides the alcohol business there were other notable sales.  Krave Jerky of Sonoma sold to Hershey. And just to show that marijuana is about to go mainstream Scotts Miracle-Gro bought Santa Rosa's General Hydroponics, an international company that supplies indoor dope growers.