The big boys are on a buying spree. This week conglomerates have bought Napa Valley wineries William Hill Estate, Duckhorn Vineyards, and the biggest shocker of all, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellar.
Stag’s Leap Wine Cellar, not to be confused with Stags’ Leap Winery (owned by Fosters Wine Estates) was sold to St. Michelle Wine Estates of Washington State and Marchese Piero Antinori of Italy. Stag’s Leap Wine Cellar recently celebrated the 30-year anniversary of the “Judgment of Paris,” in which Stag’s Leap’s 1973 Cabernet was selected as the top Cabernet in a blind tasting of California Cabs and French Bordeaux wines. Warren Winiarski, who has been the winemaker and owner of Stag’s Leap Wine cellars, is a legend in his own right and certainly will go down in history as one of Napa Valley’s wine greats.
E.G. Gallo seems to be gobbling up wineries everywhere in California. A few years back we were surprised when they purchased the historic and wonderful Louis Martini winery. Now they have added another big Napa Valley name, the William Hill Estate winery.
Duckhorn Vineyards has been looking for a buyer and finally found one in GI Partners. We checked the GI Partners Website and found they own a diverse range of companies and, as far as we could gather, none related to the wine industry. Duckhorn also owns Paraduxx in the Napa Valley, and Golden Eye in Mendocino’s Anderson Valley and these wineries are part of the deal.
All three sellers state that they found the perfect match in a buyer, one that will hold true to the philosophy and integrity of their winery. Even though in the future these wineries may look the same and produce great wines, it will be different visiting them. Part of the aura of the Napa Valley is the family wineries’ pioneering spirit and passion for winemaking. That will be missing.