Exclusive news and research on the wine, spirits and beer business

Wine Spectator: Duckhorn Wine Company Buys Kosta Browne

July 17, 2018

Napa’s Duckhorn Wine Company announced this morning that it’s purchasing Sonoma Pinot Noir powerhouse Kosta Browne Winery. Duckhorn will replace Kosta Browne’s current stakeholders, the investment fund J.W. Childs, as the sole owner. The deal includes Kosta Browne’s winery and tasting room in Sebastopol, 80 acres of owned vineyards and leases on 90 additional acres, as well as all inventory. Kosta Browne CEO and president Scott Becker, as well as winemaker Nico Cueva, will remain at the company. The sale price wasn’t disclosed.

“Kosta Browne has written a chapter of great Pinot over the last 20 years,” Alex Ryan, Duckhorn CEO and president, told Wine Spectator. “There are a lot of wineries for sale right now. If we were looking purely for assets, that would be one thing, but Kosta Browne has authenticity and you can’t match that.”

Kosta Browne launched in 1998 with one barrel of Pinot Noir, made by friends and founding partners Michael Browne and Dan Kosta, later joined by Chris Costello. Since then, the winery has become one of the most famous Pinot Noir brands in California. Its 2009 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir was named Wine Spectator’s 2011 Wine of the Year. Kosta Browne currently produces about 30,000 cases annually.

Growth has brought changes, however. When the original financial backers were looking to cash out, the Sonoma-based investment firm Vincraft purchased the winery in 2009. J.W. Childs, a Boston-based private equity firm, took over in 2015. In 2017, all three founders officially stepped away from the winery to pursue personal projects.

The deal unites two Wine Spectator Wine of the Year winners—2017’s top honors went to Duckhorn’s Merlot Napa Valley Three Palms Vineyard 2014. Duckhorn Wine Company, whose portfolio of brands includes Duckhorn, Decoy, Paraduxx, Goldeneye, Migration, Canvasback, and Calera—a total of 900,000 cases per year—is owned by a private-equity firm, TSG Consumer Partners. Executives at both firms say they see exchanges of ownership and leadership as being natural, especially in the private-equity realm.

But this is Kosta Browne’s fourth set of investors in 20 years of business, and CEO and president Scott Becker says the challenge is to keep the vision of its founders alive through each transition. With Duckhorn taking the reins, Becker trusts their understanding of the long-view perspective required in wine. “Our vision remains the same, but our ambitions are bigger,” said Becker. Wine Spectator has more. —Aaron Romano

Subscribe to Shanken News Daily’s Email Newsletter, delivered to your inbox each morning.

Tagged : , ,

GET YOUR FIRST LOOK AT 2021 DATA AND 2022 PROJECTIONS FOR THE WINE AND SPIRITS INDUSTRIES. ORDER YOUR 2022 IMPACT DATABANK REPORTS. CLICK HERE.

Previous :  Next :