03.31.2015  
 

Treasury to Sell Asti Winery and Vineyards

Historic winery with 2.5 million-case production capacity holds longstanding water rights, permit for hotel and restaurants

 
by Jane Firstenfeld
 
“treasury
 
Melbourne, Australia-based Treasury Wine Estates announced plans to sell the historic Asti Winery and surrounding property in Cloverdale, Calif.
Cloverdale, Calif.—Financially troubled Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) announced Monday it will sell the historic Asti Winery and its surrounding vineyards as part of cost-cutting efforts.

Established in 1881 in northern Sonoma County, the property contains 536 total acres, 275 of which are planted mostly to classic Bordeaux grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc and Malbec.

Robert Nicholson, principal of International Wine Associates (IWA), the exclusive agent for the sale, told Wines & Vines that the winery, designated California Historical Landmark No. 621, is more than just an eye-catching relic.

Permitted to produce 2.5 million cases annually, and with tank capacity of 750,000 gallons, it is the largest winery now on the North Coast market, Nicholson said. “It has a very efficient production facility that has been significantly modernized,” he said. The winery has 56 full-time employees “with extensive knowledge of the property.”

Rich in water; tourism-friendly

The property holds very senior water rights going back to 1914, according to Nicholson. There are four wells on site, a capacious reservoir, riparian water rights and 350,000 gallons of water storage for fire protection.

In the 1950s, the winery (then known as the Swiss Colony) was the No. 2 most popular tourist draw in California behind Disneyland. The property holds K permits and zoning for a hotel and restaurants, Nicholson said.

The property is divided into nine separate properties; TWE would like to retain fruit from some of the vineyards, perhaps under a leaseback arrangement, he said.

“There is no asking price,” Nicholson noted. “I think we’re going to find interested parties for the whole thing. We are looking for indications of interest.”

Heavy hearts at Treasury

Roger Sharp, director of group corporate affairs at TWE Global in Australia, told Wines & Vines that Treasury is selling Asti  “with a slightly heavy heart.

“We are not mothballing the property and hope most of the staff would be retained by the new owners. We’d expect that someone in the wine industry in that part of the world will want to buy it.”

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