HEALDSBURG -- After previous attempts to purchase Michel-Schlumberger, a Southern California-based investor who owns Alder Fels and other California and French wineries has acquired the Dry Creek Valley boutique vintner.
The buyer was KSSM, LLC, an investment group led by Steve Adams, founder and chairman of Westlake Village-based Adams Wine Group. The group acquired Adler Fels in 2004 and now has a portfolio that includes boutique brands such as White Cottage Ranch in Napa Valley, direct-to-consumer fulfillment house Pack N' Ship Direct in Windsor and American Cellars Wine Club.
Included in the transaction, which closed Wednesday for an undisclosed sum, are the 7,000-case-a-year brand, winery and 67 acres of vines on the 100-acre estate, according to Jim Morris, vice president of marketing and direct to consumer sales for Michel-Schlumberger.
"Jacques Pierre was at the point where he wanted to slow down and retire," he said. Mr. Adams inquired about acquiring the winery at least a couple of times before.
"Steve Adams has always had a longing for Michel-Schlumberger and the Dry Creek area," said Mario Zepponi, partner in Santa Rosa-based wine mergers-and-acquisitions firm Zepponi & Company. The property was jointly marketed with Mark Stevens of Sotheby's Great Estates and had a list price of $12 million.
The direct-to-consumer focus of Michel-Schlumberger fits well with the Adams Group, Mr. Morris said. Nearly 90 percent of the bottles produced are sold that way, with more than half of revenues coming from the large wine club, fulfillment for which has been handled by Pack N' Ship Direct for years.
Mr. Schlumberger is retaining 20 acres of vines on the slopes of Bradford Mountain.
"Jacques Pierre is one of the great statesmen and gentlemen of the wine industry, such a good ambassador to Dry Creek Valley and Sonoma County," Mr. Zepponi said. "He will be missed."
Most of the nearly two dozen employees will remain with the winery. However, winemaker Michael Brunson, who came to the winery in 1993, is being replaced by Bryan Davison, according to Mr. Morris. Mr. Davison's winemaking credits include Martin Ray and Chateau St. Jean.
Also, Gary Hawke, formerly chief executive of Pellegrini Family Vineyards, replaces President Judd Wallenbrock, Mr. Morris said. Mr. Hawke will be managing director for Michel-Schlumberger and Central Coast-based Roblar Winery, which is also part of Mr. Adams' portfolio.
Planned upgrades to Michel-Schlumberger facility include deferred maintenance and improvements to winemaking systems.
Silicon Valley Bank financed the transaction.