Gallo buys Pahlmeyer Winery, acclaimed vintner of Napa Valley

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E. & J. Gallo Winery, the world's largest family wine company, continues to expand its holdings in among the top names in California North Coast winemaking with the purchase of Napa Valley’s Pahlmeyer Winery, known for Bordeaux-style wines such as Proprietary Red.

The deal, announced Tuesday, includes the Pahlmeyer and Jayson by Pahlmeyer brands ($30-$350 a bottle at retail), a lease of the Waters Ranch vineyard in the Atlas Peak appellation and the Jayson tasting room at The Village at Vista Collina Resort in south Napa. The purchase price wasn’t disclosed.

“We are happy to have found a buyer who shares my family’s vision for Pahlmeyer,”said Cleo Pahlmeyer, president and daughter of the founder. Not included in the deal is Wayfarer Vineyards, a boutique pinot noir and chardonnay producer started on the Sonoma Coast in the early 2000s. The winery and its eponymous brand will continue to be run by Cleo Pahlmeyer.

“Jayson Pahlmeyer’s passion for wine is evident in everything he’s done,” said Roger Nabedian, senior vice president and general manager of Gallo’s Premium Wine Division, in the announcement. “We are thrilled to continue working with both Jayson and his daughter Cleo as we incorporate the esteemed Pahlmeyer brands into our luxury portfolio. Pahlmeyer compliments our portfolio nicely, allowing Gallo to continue competing in luxury wine and fueling strategic growth for the company.”

Jayson Pahlmeyer said in a statement the two families share similar principles.

“(W)ith Gallo’s long standing commitment to quality, I am confident they will take Pahlmeyer to even greater heights in the future,” he said.

He co-founded the wine venture in 1981 by planting a 55-acre property in southeast Napa Valley. The first vintage of Pahlmeyer's Proprietary Red blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, petit verdot and malbec was in 1986.

In 2015, he spoke at a Business Journal event about the company’s succession plan. That included a transfer of equity between generations, bringing in Brian Hillard as president in 2012 then appointing Cleo to that role in 2017.

The Gallo family portfolio includes over 100 wine and spirits brands. The move from producer of value and popular premium brands to vintner of upscale wines is nearly two decades in the making. It got moving with the acquisition of Napa Valley’s Louis M. Martini and William Hill in 2002 and 2007, respectively.

Eight years later, the premium end got another influx, with Alexander Valley’s Asti winery and Souverain brand, The Ranch Winery in Napa Valley, 258 acres of vines in Napa County’s Pope Valley, and J Vineyards & Winery in Russian River Valley. A year later came the addition of Orin Swift Cellars of Napa Valley.

2017 also brought a pivotal move for North Coast premium wine production, with the acquisition of the 600-acre Stagecoach Vineyard, a go-to source for a number of notable Napa County brands. Earlier this year, Constellation agreed to a deal to sell about 30 wine brands to Gallo, including some North Coast premium brands such as Clos Du Bois and Mark West, but completion has been delayed by regulators.

Santa Rosa-based Zepponi & Company was the exclusive financial adviser to Pahlmeyer winery.

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