[caption id="attachment_93347" align="aligncenter" width="555"] RAAS Corp.'s Kieu Hoang Winery acquired the Michael Mondavi Family Estate Winery property, including the tasting room shown here, on June 5. After it secures permits and licenses, the new owner plans to use it as a tasting room for its 2-year-old wine brand. Folio Fine Wine Partners plans to lease a tasting room elsewhere. (credit: Folio Fine Wine Partners)[/caption]
NAPA -- A Southern California-based entrepreneur in blood plasma and health-related products worldwide purchased the 100,000-case-a-year Michael Mondavi Family Estate Winery southwest of Napa and plans to grow a new high-end wine brand for Asian and U.S. markets.
Agoura Hills-based RAAS Corp. (818-991-6117, raascorp.com), the parent company of Kieu Hoang Winery, purchased the winery and more than 20 acres of surrounding vineyards and plantable land at 1285 Dealy Ln. in the Napa County side of Los Carneros winegrowing region for about $12 million. The sale closed Thursday.
Four brands produced by Mr. Mondavi's Folio Fine Wine Partners weren't included in the deal.
"We're very excited to have the tools now to make the premium wine we want," said Ian Scally, business development manager for RAAS.
[caption id="attachment_93349" align="alignright" width="154"] Kieu Hoang (credit: RAAS Corp.)[/caption]
Kieu Hoang, a U.S. citizen originally from Vietnam, started RAAS -- short for "Rare Antibody Antigen Supply" -- in 1980 as a supplier of blood plasma. The company built a large research-and-development center in China and now offers a line of blood- and health-related products.
Starting in 2010, Mr. Hoang expanded his focus to grapes as a health-promoting food. In 2012, he launched the cabernet sauvignon-focused Kieu Hoang Winery brand with 2011 vintage wine produced mostly at The Ranch Winery custom-production facility in St. Helena. About 10,000 cases have been produced and sold to China and other Asian markets for the equivalent of more than $50, before tax, tariffs and other charges.
Folio Fine Wine Partners plans to use a custom-processing facility for the 2014 harvest and lease barrel-storage space as well as a tasting room, according to spokeswoman Rebecca Hopkins. The long-term goal is to buy a much smaller winery with a tasting room.
"The Carneros facility is big, with production of 80,000 or more cases," Ms. Hopkins said. "We're doing a lot of custom crush."
Production of the four Folio brands is about 15,000 cases a year, she said. The company also imports and markets wines from around the world.
Part of the sale included use of the Carneros tasting room until the end of July or later, when Kieu Hoang Winery receives its permits and licenses.
Not much is expected to change for capacity to handle the handful of custom-winemaking clients at the winery this year, and negotiations are ongoing to encourage them to remain there under the new ownership, Mr. Scally said.
[caption id="attachment_93350" align="alignright" width="143"] Craig MacLean (credit: MacLean Wine Consulting)[/caption]
Leading the Kieu Hoang Winery project is Craig MacLean, whose winemaking consulting work includes Juslyn Vineyards, JAQK Cellars and Brookdale Vineyards.
Mr. Hoang, 69, debuted this year on the Forbes list of billionaires worldwide at No. 974, with an estimated net worth of $1.9 billion. That tally largely comes from his RAAS' full ownership of RAAS China, which owns 37 percent of Shanghai RAAS Blood Products, which is traded on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.
Part of RAAS' expansion into plant-based health products includes a cosmetics venture in Italy using grape byproducts, and a fashion line is in the works there, Mr. Scally said. One of the projects in development is use of grape byproducts from Carneros production in health products, but that is just in the early stages, he said.
Interest in North Coast wineries and vineyards by wealthy investors in or from Asia continues to grow, according to John Bergman, whose Bergman Euro-National brokered the deal with Robyn Bentley of Pacific Union International. Recent examples are Wenchen Zhu's purchase of 502 acres of Carneros land late last year from Roche Ranch Vineyards, and a Hong Kong-based group purchased the Cleavage Creek brand and its Pope Valley boutique winery last July.
Bergman Euro-National currently is working with an investor group from mainland China looking to buy North Coast wine assets.
UPDATE, Sept. 18, 2014: Craig MacLean was hired as chief operating officer of the winery. He said that as of June 15 he was no longer associated with Kieu Hoang Winery.