Diamond Mountain Winery Sold

Von Strasser Winery transaction follows sales of Cuvaison and J Winery

by Paul Franson
Following the sale of its Diamond Mountain property, Von Strasser Winery will lease back the winemaking facility, cave and tasting room through 2016.
Calistoga, Calif.—Vineyards and winery properties continue to change hands in the hot California premium vineyard market.

Von Strasser Winery is the latest established winery to sell part of its assets following a similar sale by Cuvaison Estate Wines and E. & J. Gallo’s purchase of J Vineyards & Winery.

Winery owner Rudy Von Strasser has agreed to sell his 35-acre estate property at 1510 Diamond Mountain Road, which includes 15 acres planted to Cabernet Sauvignon (12 acres), Petit Verdot (1 acre), Malbec (1 acre) and Grüner Veltliner (1 acre), plus a winery. Vines are planted between 500 feet to 1,000 feet elevation. Von Strasser declined to disclose price or the buyer.

The sale does not include the brand, label, trademarks, inventory or winery business, which will continue both during and after the transaction.

Rudy and Rita von Strasser bought the historic Roddis Estate Winery in 1990 and began renovating and modernizing the vineyards and buildings. The structure that houses the winery is an historic barn that was built in the late 1880s.

Von Strasser Winery still owns one vineyard and leases and buys fruit from five other vineyards in the Diamond Mountain District. These relationships were not part of the transaction, which will allow von Strasser to continue producing his brand’s vineyard-designated wines as well as its reserve and Grüner Veltliner bottlings.

Meanwhile, the last bottling for the Estate Vineyard wines will most likely be the 2015 vintage. Since the winery is currently selling the 2010 vintage, this loss will not be seen in the marketplace for quite some time.

As part of the transaction, Von Strasser will lease back the winery, cave and tasting room through the end of 2016. During that time, he will continue to make wine and host visitors by appointment.

In addition to producing its flagship label, von Strasser plans to continue the value Rudy label, and he hopes to expand his role as a consulting winemaker. Von Strasser said he is evaluating options for where to relocate the brand.

Cuvaison sells Calistoga winery
Cuvaison Estate Wines is selling its old Calistoga winery and tasting room on 15 acres to Criswell-Radovan LLC, who were investors in the Calistoga Ranch resort and are attempting to redevelop long-shuttered Aetna Springs resort in Pope Valley.

The price was not disclosed, but the Napa Valley Register estimated it at $6.3 million based on the tax on the documentary stamp.

The new owners plan to rename the property Fairwinds Estate Winery and will continue to provide custom-crush services to existing clients with the same production management and team.

The Calistoga winery was home to Cuvaison Estate wines from 1969 until the completion of a new, state-of-the art winery in Carneros in 2004.

Since its completion, Cuvaison and Brandlin Mount Veeder wines have been produced at Cuvaison’s Carneros winery.

The Calistoga location continued as a custom-crush facility and Cuvaison tasting room.

The recent transaction includes the Calistoga winery and tasting room but no brands. Cuvaison and Brandlin wines will not be sold at the Calistoga location after July 31.

Cuvaison Estate Wines will continue to offer Cuvaison and Brandlin wines by appointment only at its tasting room in Carneros.

Zepponi & Co. served as the financial advisor to Cuvaison Estate Wines and negotiated the sale. The Schmidheiny family of Switzerland bought the Calistoga winery and brand in 1979.

Gallo buys J Vineyards

E. & J. Gallo Winery has bought J Vineyards & Winery, best known for its sparkling wine but also a producer of acclaimed Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.

Gallo will likely use the brand to fill its need for a high-end sparkling wine, a fast-growing category not addressed in its current portfolio. (It sells low-end sparklers.)

Located outside Healdsburg in Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley, J Vineyards & Winery was founded in 1986 by Judy Jordan.

The acquisition the winery and more than 300 acres in nine vineyards within the Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley AVAs, expands Gallo’s already large presence and properties in Sonoma County.

Gallo already owns nine wineries in wine regions throughout California and Washington.

Demeter Group acted as J Vineyards & Winery’s financial advisor on the transaction.

Treasury selling Asti Winery

In related news, Treasury Wine Estates put historic Asti Winery near Geyserville—once the flagship of the Italian Swiss Colony brand—on the market. Read more here.

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