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North Bay Business Journal

Tuesday, June 19, 2012, 6:59 pm

Crushpad denies report of cash crunch

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    SONOMA – Crushpad, a custom microvintner for hobbyists and small-scale wine programs, has denied reports that it is scrambling to come up with cash from investors to avoid a shutdown.

    “Lewis Perdue’s article is neither factual nor accurate,” the company wrote via its official Twitter account. The tweet Monday came in response to sharing on the social network a story earlier that day by Mr. Perdue’s Wine Industry Insight. Quoting unnamed industry sources, he wrote that Crushpad was seeking a half-million dollars from investors and is marketing inventory for sale to keep the company going because investor Bill Foley reportedly was not wanting to infuse the venture with more cash.

    “Our doors are open for business as usual. We appreciate your support,” the Crushpad tweet continued.

    In April of last year, Mr. Foley invested more than $3 million in Crushpad. That summer, the business relocated from Napa Valley to Mr. Foley’s Sonoma Valley holding, Sebastiani Vineyards. Around the same time, Peter Ekman, former vice president and co-founder of Ascentia Wine Estates, became chief executive officer of Crushpad as founder Michael Brill moved to focus on international endeavors such as the facility in France.

    Mr. Ekman reportedly said the situation may improve soon.

    “Like a lot of winery operations, we have been faced with some need for restructuring which is now almost complete,” he is said to have written in an email to Mr. Perdue.

    Mr. Ekman and Mr. Brill did not return calls for comment.

    In April, Crushpad entered a partnership with the Bordeaux, France-based Cazes family, owners of Chateau Lynch-Bages, Ormes de Pez and other wine and lodging holdings in France and abroad, to open a Crushpad winery in the wine-tourism village of Bages near Pauillac. The family has since acquired that venture, according to a statement.

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