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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Recent Winery Acquisitions

It's only Tuesday and there have been a couple local wineries in the news this week. It's about big ones swallowing up smaller ones. But that's not all these two sales have in common.

Kendall Jackson, a maker of millions of cases of wines spread among three dozen labels is headquartered here in Sonoma County. On Monday it was announced they acquired a premium Oregon producer, Penner-Ash. This winery is less than 20 years old and produces about 12,000 cases a year. K-J owns five wineries and 1,300 acres of grapes in Oregon.

Just announced today, Ste. Michelle Winery, purchased Patz & Hall of Sonoma County. Ste. Michelle is huge in Washington state and a big player across the country. Patz & Hall is a 30 year old small producer of premium-priced wines.
 
Notice anything in common on the two labels?
 
These two back-to-back purchases have something in common besides being about large wine companies buying up small ones. Two words:  Pinot Noir.

Most of the recent stories of money changing hands in the premium wine market has been about the large guys buying into Pinot Noir because Pinot is hot. How much longer will the demand seem to exceed the supply? How much longer will the people with lots of money throw a bunch of it chasing Pinot? And who's next? Well, if I was a small producer of Pinot Noir and was ever thinking about retiring rich I'd be sticking my for sale sign out now.


Thursday update:

What was that I said about it's only Tuesday and there have been a couple local wineries in the news? Make that three. Bill Foley has been in the wine biz for about 20 years while making his fortune in real estate-related enterprises (see FNF on the NYSE). He owns wineries from Washington to New Zealand, including Sebastiani and the magnificent Chalk Hill property in Sonoma County.

Wednesday it was announced he's purchased Stryker-Sonoma, a well-respected Cabernet and Zinfandel producer. The winery will be renamed Foley-Sonoma and the wine made by his daughter, Courtney.