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North Bay Business Journal

Monday, April 25, 2011, 8:40 am

Wine: Lede acquires Anderson Valley vineyard; Q&A with Bill Foley

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    Also: Kosta Browne plans to grow; Heck in SSU endowment; Q&A with Bill Foley

    Cliff Lede‘s Breggo Cellars purchased Savoy Vineyard, a 52-acre pinot noir and chardonnay property in Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley. Fruit for the single-vineyard Breggo brand comes from the property.

    Previous vineyard owner Richard Savoy will be a consultant, and vineyard manager Paul Ardzrooni will continue in that role. Breggo winemaker Ryan Hodgins will coordinate with wineries that buy Savoy grapes.

    Mr. Lede started his eponymous winery in the Stags Leap District of Napa County in 2002 and acquired Breggo in 2009.

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    Pinot noir producer Kosta Browne is expanding in Sebastopol, moving from one former apple processing plant to another. The winery is set to move from 18,000 square feet at the former Vacu-dry site on the outskirts of the city to 45,000 square feet as the anchor tenant in The Barlow, a planned renovation of the shuttered Barlow Co. plant at the east gate of the city. The new winery is supposed to open next year.

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    In the April 11 issue, the Business Journal asked panelists of the April 28 Wine Industry Conference about trends in mergers and acquisitions and in direct sales and social media. Panelist Bill Foley, founder of Foley Family Wines, wasn’t available for that issue but later provided his insights.

    What is the focus of your wine business and your approach to reaching that goal? Bill Foley: Driving quality growth, both in the U.S. and internationally. Continuing to build our wine brands so that they provide the best value within their particular segment.  Continuing to be fiscally responsible while allowing the winemaking team to be autonomous and make the best wines that they can.

    How active are you in pursuing acquisitions? Mr. Foley: Very actively pursuing acquisitions. Seeking premium brands that will improve our overall portfolio.

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    The Hess Collection in Napa gave a $10,000 grant each to The Land Trust of Napa County and the Napa County Student & Landowner Education and Watershed Stewardship program (SLEWS). The funds came from the winery’s participation in the One Percent for the Planet environmental advocacy program.

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    The Napa Valley Vintners trade group is set to arrive in mainland China with 40 vintners from the county on a weeklong trade mission, including stops in Shanghai and Beijing to meet wine trade representatives, media, targeted consumers and political leaders. This is the association’s eighth official trip there since 1998. The list is available at www.northbaybusinessjournal.com/32950/.

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    Wine People

    Korbel owner Gary Heck, part of the advisory board of the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University, set up a $1 million wine research endowment, which provides $23,000 a year to fund research assistants and supplementary instructors so the F. Korbel & Bros. Professor in Wine Business can focus on research for three years. The first holder of that position is Liz Thach, Ph.D. She plans to focus her research on Millennial consumers.

    As part of a shift toward more marketing services, Healdsburg-based Wine Industry Network hired Nick Young as membership operations manager. For the past five years he was information services director for the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce.

    Arrow & Branch Estate Vineyard in Napa named Jennifer Williams as winemaker, replacing Helen Keplinger, who recently went to Bryant Family Vineyard. Ms. Williams was winemaker for Spottswoode in St. Helena for the past five years and previously at Araujo Estate Wines and Trefethen Vineyards.

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    Submit items for this column to Jeff Quackenbush at jquackenbush@busjrnl.com, 707-521-4256 or fax 707-521-5292.

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