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Seghesio Vineyards Of Sonoma Is Sold After More Than A Century Of Family Ownership

June 1, 2011

Seghesio Vineyards, an historic Sonoma winery that transformed itself from a jug wine factory into one of California’s elite Zinfandel specialists, is being sold by the Seghesio family to the Napa-based Crimson Wine Group, part of the financial conglomerate Leucadia National, sources close to the sale told Wine Spectator. The price wasn’t disclosed, but the purchase includes the Healdsburg winery, 300 acres of vineyards, the Seghesio brand and current wine inventory. Most of the family members involved with the winery will stay on board.

“It’s an incredible offer but it was still a difficult decision, a bittersweet decision,” said CEO Pete Seghesio. “Every Italian family gets into fights and we don’t want to be one of those families. The family is united on this. It has been an incredible ride, but we want to go out on top.”

Seghesio is best known for five Zinfandels: Sonoma County Old Vine; its three single vineyard wines Home Ranch, San Lorenzo and Cortina; and its regular Sonoma County bottling. The 2007 Sonoma County Zinfandel was number 10 in Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2008. Seghesio produces about 100,000 cases annually and also makes Pinot Noir, Petite Sirah and Italian varietals such as Sangiovese, Barbera and Pinot Grigio. Of the 92 wines that Wine Spectator has reviewed in the past 15 years, 30 were rated 90 points or above.

“We kicked the tires on some very high-quality, niche wine producers,” said Crimson CEO Earl Martin. “And the fit with Seghesio was perfectly seamless. What they’ve been able to do qualitatively and on their scale is almost without peer.” Crimson also owns Pine Ridge Vineyards in Napa’s Stags Leap District, Chamisal Vineyards in Edna Valley and Archery Summit in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

The sale is part of a growing trend in Northern California, as longtime winemaking families increasingly opt to sell out in the face of global competition, increased consolidation of distribution channels and the strain of succession issues and inheritance taxes. Those are among the concerns that led to the sales of the Sebastiani family’s winery in 2008, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and Duckhorn in 2007 and Robert Mondavi Winery in 2004. For more on the Seghesio deal and Seghesio’s wines, click on to Winespectator.com.

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