California Wineries Looking to Sell
on 18/12/11 at 4:19 pmWine
2011 brought a long-anticipated wave of sales as owners needed new backers or hoped to retire.
When Fiji Water purchased Justin Vineyards in the closing days of 2010, was it a sign? It’s far from a fire sale, but wineries in California are changing hands while others are quietly taking on new partners. The surge of deals follows two years of slow business activity—the struggling economy meant plenty of wineries were struggling but no one wanted to rise to their financial rescue. With growth slowly resuming, players with deep pockets, such as Fiji Water and Boisset Family Estates, are looking to expand. At the same time, vintners are facing increasing competition, and a generation of pioneering winery owners are getting ready to retire.
In 2011, Wine Spectator reported on more than 20 California wineries and vineyards that found new owners or took on new partners. Sales included giants like Fetzer Vineyards, which was sold to Chile’s Concho y Toro, but mainly involved small and midsize producers such as Gary Farrell, Sonoma-Loeb and Pillar Rock. Wineries were sold for a variety of reasons, including changes in the marketplace, consumer spending and retirement.