Privately held wine companies snap up properties

Even as the global economy has faltered in the past four years, a handful of privately owned wine companies have become active in acquiring wine operations, brands and vineyards.

"The one consistent trend in the market has been the increased acquisition activity of privately held wine companies and the noticeable absence of publicly traded beverage companies," said Mario Zepponi, whose Santa Rosa-based company has advised buyers and sellers in a number of the recent North Coast wine industry mergers and acquisitions.

Santa Rosa-based Vintage Wine Estates, started by Dean & Deluca founder Leslie Rudd and Pat Roney, expanded its portfolio in July with the acquisition of the 100,000-case-a-year Cartilidge & Browne brand from Greenfield Wine Co. for an estimated $4 million to $6 million. The brand is being relocated from production at Sonoma Wine Co.'s American Canyon facility to the Grove Street winery in Healdsburg.

"It add another level of business for us," Mr. Roney said. "It adds different distributors nationwide to what we’re doing."

The wine group now includes Girard, Grove Street, Sonoma Coast Vineyards, Fire Station Red, Windsor Sonoma, Windsor Vineyards, StoneFly Vineyards and Cosentino Winery as well as International Wine Accessories. The company also acquired a stake in Kunde Estate Winery last year.

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