6 Bottles of Wine at $7,170 Validates Bet on Fine Vintners
on 03/01/11 at 11:58 pmWine
On a warm October afternoon, a steel- framed concrete warehouse north of San Francisco is inundated with grapes. Forklifts bearing fruit from the nearby Russian River Valley deliver their loads to a slow-moving conveyor belt. Flanking both sides, winemaking interns pick out stems and sunburned grapes as they groove to hip-hop music thumping from loudspeakers.
It’s the crush at Kosta Browne Winery, a Sonoma County- based maker of pinot noir that’s become one of the hottest wineries among investment bankers, venture capitalists and enthusiasts, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its February issue. Michael Browne, Kosta Browne’s co-founder and winemaker, grabs a cluster from a tub and eats some of the grapes. They burst with berry flavor, and the seeds are nutty, not bitter.
“They’re popping; they’re ripe,” shouts Browne, 42, a ruddy-faced man with Elvis-style sideburns. “They’re beautiful.”
William Price, a co-founder of buyout firm TPG Capital in Fort Worth, Texas, would be happy to hear that. Price, whose Vincraft Group owns a majority stake in Kosta Browne, is one of a number of investors betting on the next generation of California cult-wine makers.