Gallo Continues Vineyard Spending Spree

Purchase of famed Sierra Madre Vineyard in Santa Barbara is second in a week

by Jim Gordon
The Sierra Madre vineyard was first planted in 1971 and currently supplies grapes to 35 wineries.

Santa Maria, Calif.—E. & J. Gallo Winery continued its aggressive program of vineyard acquisitions in California with the purchase of its second Santa Barbara County property to be announced within a week.

Gallo is buying 542 acres of the well-known Sierra Madre Vineyard in Santa Barbara County from owner Circle Vision. Announced today, the purchase by a Gallo affiliate includes the Sierra Madre trademark and 151 acres of vines within the Santa Maria Valley AVA.

The vineyard was an early mover in Santa Barbara premium grape production. It consists primarily of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and currently supplies about 35 wineries. Sierra Madre customers have ranged from big brands like Meomi to classic California Pinot brands such as Calera, Sanford and David Bruce to boutique operations like Hitching Post and Kunin.

“We expect to continue selling grapes to the vineyard’s existing customers while using some of the grapes for our own wines,” said a Gallo spokesperson. “We will honor all existing Sierra Madre Vineyard grape contracts and land leases.”

Sierra Madre was first planted to vines in 1971 and has had several owners, including founders George A. Lucas and Sons, Dale Hampton and partners and Robert Mondavi Winery. In 2003 businessman and strawberry grower Doug Circle purchased 500 acres of Sierra Madre, according to the Circle Vision website.

In a statement, Doug Circle said, “We feel blessed to have had the opportunity to shepherd this magical Central Coast vineyard for 15 years of its exceptional 47-year history, and are pleased that it is now passing to another family who will responsibly steward it into its next chapter.”

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. International Wine Associates represented Sierra Madre in the sale.

Gallo has previously purchased grapes from the vineyard. “Sierra Madre Vineyard wine grapes consistently over-deliver,” the spokesperson said. “This purchase also affirms Gallo’s commitment to compete in the luxury wine segment and gives us the opportunity to continue making and selling our own luxury wine offerings in addition to developing new brands.”

Roger Nabedian, senior vice president and general manager of Gallo’s Premium Wine Division, said, “This purchase supports Gallo’s commitment to continue making and selling luxury wines, while growing the finest grapes in Santa Barbara County.”

On May 3 Gallo announced the acquisition of Rancho Real Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley, which consists of 436 acres with 211 acres planted.

Other properties that Gallo currently owns and operates in California’s Central Coast include Edna Valley Vineyard, Bridlewood Estate Winery and Talbott Vineyards.

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