North Bay Business Journal

Wednesday, August 15, 2012, 1:37 pm

Silver Oak acquires Sausal Vineyard & Winery


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    Sausal winery in Sonoma County's Alexander Valley

    Silver Oak Cellars' immediate plans for Sausal Vineyard & Winery involve sourcing from 75 acres of Alexander Valley cabernet sauvignon vines on the property. (credit: Sausal)

    HEALDSBURG – Silver Oak Cellars of Oakville has purchased Sausal Vineyard & Winery started nearly four decades ago in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley winegrape region north of Healdsburg.

    Effective today, the sale involves the zinfandel-focused Sausal brand, Sausal Ranch with its 113-acre vineyard, 75 acres of which are planted, as well as the winery, tasting room and other buildings, according to David Duncan, president and chief executive officer of Silver Oak. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

    Mr. Duncan said the opportunity to acquire one of the greatest vineyards in Alexander Valley was too good to pass up, even if plans for the production facility aren’t clear at this point.

    “It’s all about the dirt,” he said.

    The third generation of the winemaking Demostene family sought a buyer for a change of pace, according to an Aug. 10 letter to vendors obtained by the Business Journal.

    “After nearly 40 years of harvest, crushes and releases, we have decided it is time to relax and enjoy the fruits of our labor,” the Demostene family wrote.

    Family members could not be immediately reached for comment on the sale. The Demostene family started in Alexander Valley winemaking in the early 20th century, owning Soda Rock Winery at one point and acquiring Sausal Ranch in 1956. The third generation finished the winery in 1973.  Most of the property is planted with zinfandel vines, with certain blocks dating back five, nine and 13 decades.

    The purchase of Sausal gives Silver Oak more key grape sourcing for its Alexander Valley cab wines, according to Mr. Duncan. The family purchased the 80-acre cab-focused Miraval Vineyard about a half-mile away from Sausal Ranch on Highway 128.

    How the Sausal winery would complement Silver Oak’s Geyserville winery isn’t clear yet, Mr. Duncan said.

    David and Tim Duncan also are managing partners of the brand Twomey Cellars. In 2006 the family acquired the Roshambo winery on Westside Road in Russian River Valley and has replanted the vineyard at Twomey West Winery to sauvignon blanc grapes.

    International Wine Associates of Healdsburg represented the Demostene family in the Sausal sale negotiations.

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    1. August 15, 2012, 2:40 pm

      by fred4945

      Would it have been too much to ask the “reporter”, under whose byline this was posted, to have checked with the Press-Democrat’s wine girl – or, at least, to have visited Sausal’s website.

      Sausal is known for ZINFANDEL, not cabs. In fact, it has a reputation for wonderful old-vine zins (50-130 year vines) at remarkable prices. The website, alone, would have shown how little of their acreage – or bottling – is Cabernet Sauvignon. Your article does not mention the word, “Zinfandel”.

      Receiving a news release, then re-typing it, certainly is not reporting. Stenography is not journalism – a distinction you readers realize more by the day.

    2. August 15, 2012, 4:18 pm

      by Jeff Quackenbush, Business Journal Staff Reporter

      @fred4945, Sausal is known for the long-planted zin. The Duncans are planning to develop the Sausal Ranch vineyard over the next few years, and Alexander Valley cab is on their minds. “It’s all about the dirt.”

    3. August 15, 2012, 5:58 pm

      by fred4945

      Jeff, you really don’t think Sansal’s Zinfandel was worth mentioning?

      When Bill Foley bought Chalk Hill, if he’d intended to turn the vineyard into Syrah, do you not think it would have been worth mentioning that Chalk Hill was known for its Chardonnay? Do you think your readers would have wanted to know what would happen to their Chardonnay production?

      Do you think the readers of this article might want to know the future of Sausal’s old-vine Zinfandel? Your article indicates you didn’t even ask the question.

      It’s about the difference between stenography and journalism.

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