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Benziger, Imagery wineries in Sonoma Valley sold

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The Wine Group, the second-largest U.S. wine company, acquired Benziger Family Winery and Imagery Winery in Sonoma Valley.

The sale closed June 8. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Livermore-based The Wine Group sold 57.5 million cases in the U.S. last year, according to Wine Business Monthly. It’s the latest purchase of a long-standing North Coast vintner by a top U.S. wine company looking to expand its selection of higher-end wines. E&J Gallo, the top global wine producer with estimated global production of 85 million cases, acquired J Vineyards & Winery near Healdsburg earlier this year.

“We are honored to bring the Benziger Family Winery and its team into The Wine Group,” said Brian Vos, CEO of The Wine Group. “We look forward to continuing to build on Benziger’s reputation as a producer of some of Sonoma County’s best wines while providing visitors with an unrivaled experience at the beautiful and unique Sonoma properties. As we continue to move into the superpremium category, we have been thoughtful in our search for a winery that produces exceptional wines while sharing our values of integrity, social responsibility, and innovation. The Benziger family is not only celebrated for its outstanding wine quality, but their strong team will be a great cultural fit within The Wine Group.”

Founded by the Benziger family in 1981, Benziger Family Winery is located on a biodynamically certified 85-acre estate adjacent to Jack London State Park in the town of Glen Ellen. Benziger produces a wide range of super- and ultrapremium wines sourced from Sonoma County, with many of the grapes grown in its six vineyards located in the Sonoma Valley, Sonoma Coast, Russian River Valley, Sonoma Mountain and Pine Mountain-Cloverdale Peak AVAs. The Wine Group will also acquire the Imagery Winery and tasting room on Highway 12 in Glen Ellen which is approximately two miles east of Benziger Family Winery. In addition to producing high-quality unique wines, Imagery Winery houses a contemporary art collection.

“Thirty-five years ago my father and I purchased the Benziger site,” said founder and CEO Mike Benziger. “I am proud of the work our family has done to grow the Benziger brand and create a destination for consumers that is founded on Biodynamics and green farming practices. With the knowledge that we’re selling the winery to a privately held company that shares our values, now is the perfect time for me to pursue other passions. We are certain that The Wine Group will carry on the Benziger family’s legacy of quality.”

In addition to winery staff joining The Wine Group, key executives will also join the company to help manage the winery and provide valuable continuity. Mark Burningham, who has worked with the family for almost 30 years, will take over as general manager of North Coast operations. Chris Benziger, Mike Benziger’s brother, becomes vice president for trade relations at Benziger. Joe Benziger, another brother, remains winemaker for second label Imagery.

The Wine Group also started in 1981. Its portfolio includes Concannon Vineyards, Cupcake, Chloe, Trapiache, Cocobon, Save Me San Francisco and Slow Press.

Demeter Group, a San Francisco-based investment bank for beverage alcohol companies, acted as Benziger Family Winery’s exclusive financial advisor on the transaction.

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