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Exclusive: Santa Margherita USA Takes Majority Stake In Oregon’s Roco Winery

January 5, 2022

Known for its flagship Pinot Grigio and other Italian fine wine labels, Miami-based Santa Margherita USA is expanding into Oregon, SND has learned. The company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Italy’s Santa Margherita Gruppo Vinicolo, has agreed to take a majority stake in Willamette Valley-based Roco Winery. Neither the exact stake nor financial terms were disclosed.

Roco was founded by winemaker Rollin Soles and his wife Corby Stonebraker-Soles in 2001, and has garnered critical acclaim, earning a host of 90-plus scores from Wine Spectator over the years. Focused on the Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and sparkling segments, Roco produces about 15,000 cases annually, Santa Margherita USA chief executive Vincent Chiaramonte told SND, “with plans to grow further in the future.”

“The leading wines are Gravel Road Pinot Noir and Gravel Road Chardonnay (retailing at $25-$30) and The Stalker Pinot Noir ($40),” Chiaramonte added. “Roco also produces some signature sparkling wines and some small production Pinot Noir offerings ranging from $50-$100.”

In a statement, Soles said the new partnership with Santa Margherita “will allow us the ability to continue making wines that are a true expression of their place.”

For Santa Margherita, owned by the Marzotto family, the deal marks its first foray into winemaking beyond Italy. “Our affinity and admiration for the U.S. made the location of our first international winery venture a natural choice,” stated Santa Margherita Gruppo Vinicolo chairman Gaetano Marzotto. “The U.S. marketplace is dynamic, and we believe in the quality of Oregon wines, specifically from the Willamette Valley region.”

Indeed, while growth appears to have slowed some last year, Oregon has outpaced other domestic wine regions like California and Washington recently, albeit from a smaller base. The state’s wineries are also a key driver of premiumization in the broader wine industry, boasting an average retail price of around $16 a bottle in IRI channels lately, which is roughly twice the national average.

According to Chiaramonte, the Roco deal could be followed by more international investments by Santa Margherita. “We will continue to look for viable opportunities that complement our family’s vision,” he said.—Daniel Marsteller

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