2 Napa Valley vineyard management companies merge

Clark Vineyard Management, a 4-decade-old company under second generation ownership, and startup Hardin Vineyard Management on Monday said they have merged.

The new company, Hardin Clark Vineyard Management, manages 650 acres mostly in Napa Valley from the Oakville appellation north as well as in Sonoma County’s Knights and Dry Creek valleys. Notable vineyards farmed include Hourglass, Outpost, Pulido Walker, Melansen, Paras, Switchback Ridge and Theorem.

There has been some crossover between the companies’ clients, and both have used viticultural consultant Kelly Maher.

Financial terms of the combination weren’t disclosed.

Co-owner Matt Hardin, 38, said the continuing goal of the new firm is to be “fiscally responsible” amid rising costs and an increasing desire among vintners, vineyard owners and management companies to be more involved with what happens in the vineyard..

“We’re into farming these super premium projects with our clients’ best interest in mind,” Hardin told the Business Journal.

While availability of skilled labor has been a concern for North Coast viticulture for years, it has become more acute with California’s emerging law on agricultural overtime. Signed in 2016 and effective Jan. 1, 2022, Assembly Bill 1066 calls for agricultural employers with over 25 field workers to pay time and a half past eight hours a day and 40 hours a week, up from 10 and 60 hours currently.

“It went from 60 hours to 40, so we have to hire one-third more people,” Hardin said. “If we had the ability to work up to the 60-hour cap, I would not complain about labor.”

The company employs 70 year-round, expanding to 150 seasonally. The firm expects to hire an assistant vineyard manager and a viticulturist.

And the price of steel and plastic, key components of the vine stakes and trellises as well as the irrigation pipes, went up roughly 30% in the last year, Hardin said.

Tom Clark founded Clark Vineyard Management in 1978, and son Josh Clark, now 47, took over ownership in 2000.

Hardin started his own management company after working at Barbour Vineyard Management from 2008 through 2019.

Matt started Hardin Vineyard Management in 2020 after his tenure with Barbour Vineyard Management from 2008-2019. Tom Clark, Josh’s father founded Clark Vineyard Management in 1978 and Josh took over the company in 2000, expanding and diversifying the services provided as well as the acreage under management.

Clark and Hardin grew up in St. Helena natives, graduated from St. Helena High School and attended California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo.

Jeff Quackenbush covers wine, construction and real estate. Before the Business Journal, he wrote for Bay City News Service in San Francisco. He has a degree from Walla Walla University. Reach him at jquackenbush@busjrnl.com or 707-521-4256.

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