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Report: Napa Valley’s Silverado Vineyards selling to Foley Family Wines of Sonoma County

Foley Family Wines is said to be buying Silverado Vineyards in Napa Valley at an estimated price of $150 million, according to an industry publication.

Wine Spectator reported Tuesday that the Santa Rosa-based wine company has a deal to acquire the Stags Leap District winery along Silverado Trail plus 300 acres of vines. Foley Family Wines told the Business Journal that it “does not comment on speculation or rumored acquisitions.”

The winery produces about 68,000 cases annually, retailing for $25 to $125 a bottle, according to the magazine.

If completed, the acquisition would follow Foley’s purchase of Chateau St. Jean in Sonoma Valley at the end of last year and the deal for Ferrari-Carano Vineyards & Winery in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley in 2020.

Bill Foley, a top board member of Fidelity National Financial and Fidelity National Information Services, started what’s now called Foley Family Wines 26 years ago. Today its holdings include about two dozen wineries in Napa and Sonoma counties, California Central Coast, Washington, Oregon and New Zealand. Those in Napa Valley currently are Foley Johnson, Merus and Kuleto.

"For a long time, Bill has been looking for the right fit, and I think he found it,” said Mario Zepponi, whose Santa Rosa-based beverage industry merger-and-acquisitions firm advises on a number of West Coast deals.

Key features Foley’s team has sought are a production winery in a notable appellation, and Silverado’s tasting room along major Napa Valley thoroughfare Silverado Trail, said Zepponi, whose firm isn’t involved in this deal.

While he declined to confirm the reported purchase price, Zepponi said that it likely was based more on the value of the real estate — particularly, the vineyards — than on the brand.

“The branding behind Silverado Vineyards is still a work in process,” Zepponi said. “It historically has been known for white wines and then pivoted to rebrand as cabernet sauvignon–focused.”

He noted that branding was a key factor in the $250 million sale price in February for Shafer Vineyards, a 36,000-case-a-year Napa Valley producer whose Hillside Select cab sold out last fall at $325 a bottle.

While the global economic and supply chain uncertainties caused by the Russia-Ukraine conflict have slowed the pace of deal-making for many European players for U.S wine properties, it’s shaping up to be an active “transaction season” in coming months, Zepponi said.

“I think we will see many more on the North Coast and West Coast,” he said.

Silverado was started in 1981 by Ron and Diane Miller, a Walt Disney Company CEO until he left in 1984 and one of Walt Disney’s daughters, respectively. Ron Miller died in 2019, and Diane Disney Miller in 2013.

Jeff Quackenbush covers wine, construction and real estate. Before coming to the Business Journal in 1999, he wrote for Bay City News Service in San Francisco. Reach him at jquackenbush@busjrnl.com or 707-521-4256.


Update, June 22, 2022: Mario Zepponi’s firm isn’t involved in the Foley–Silverado deal.

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