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Exclusive: Heitz Cellar Owners Form Negociant, Aiming To Build Luxury Portfolio

July 7, 2020

The Lawrence family, owners of Napa Valley icon Heitz Cellar, have created a new negociant, Demeine Estates, with plans to build a collective of likeminded domestic and international wine brands. Heitz CEO Carlton McCoy will hold the same title at Demeine.

Initially, the Demeine portfolio will include the Heitz brand itself, whose volume hovers around 40,000 cases. Before the end of the year, the Heitz team plans to expand with the launch of two new Napa Valley brands, Brendel Wines and Ink Grade Estate. Heitz also recently bolstered its holdings with Haynes Vineyard, the historic 43-acre Coombsville site the Lawrences and McCoy acquired last September, from which they intend to produce small-lot Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. “Our aim is to create a diverse portfolio of wine brands and support them in the pursuit of creating the highest quality, most expressive wines possible, encouraging innovation and sustainable practices,” says McCoy.

Also joining the effort are two Opus One veterans, Christopher Avery and Nick Holmes. Avery, who will serve as president, was previously vice president of sales and marketing at Opus One. Holmes, as vice president of sales, will handle national distributor management and sales initiatives. He led Opus One’s Northwest region and also spent time with Jordan Vineyard & Winery and Regal Wine Company, the Jackson Family-owned distributor. Meanwhile, Drew Ross has been appointed executive director of marketing. He previously served with Hundred Acre, Jordan, and Young’s Market Co.

McCoy told SND he envisions “a collection of unique domestic estates complemented with wines from the great regions of Europe,” as Demeine goes about assembling its portfolio. “We’re looking to partner with wineries that emphasize integrity and quality and create terroir-driven wines that speak of place and exist with a sense of purpose.”

The creation of Demeine continues a period of rapid expansion for the Lawrence family in Napa Valley. Agriculture magnate Gaylon Lawrence, Jr. acquired Heitz in 2018. In June of 2019, he purchased the Wildwood Vineyard in the Rutherford appellation from Treasury Wine Estates, which sits adjacent to Heitz’s Trailside Vineyard. The Haynes Vineyard acquisition followed later last year.—Daniel Marsteller

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