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Napa Valley’s Demeine Estates Rapidly Assembling A Formidable Fine Wine Portfolio

May 12, 2022

Napa Valley-based importer and marketer Demeine Estates, established in 2020 by the Lawrence family, has quickly built a portfolio drawing from some of the most sought after wine regions in the world, including Napa Valley, Champagne, Sancerre, Chablis, and Piemonte. Demeine is led by Philana Bouvier as president, a veteran of Young’s Market Co. and RNDC, and anchored by Heitz Cellars, which produces between 25,000 and 35,000 cases a year, accounting for roughly half of total volume last year. With several new brands joining the portfolio recently, the Demeine’s presence looks set to continue expanding.

“Pre-pandemic, most of our brands were very on-premise heavy. Covid gave us an opportunity to re-evaluate so we can better serve our customers as well as our wholesale partners,” Carlton McCoy, managing partner for Lawrence Wine Estates (the collective that includes the Lawrence family’s domestic wineries) told SND. “We started to shift more to retail. Our results have been fantastic. You will now see more of an even split between on- and off-premise allocation of our wines.”

Owned by the Lawrence family since 2018, Heitz is a Napa Valley institution. McCoy points to the winery’s history as one of its selling points, noting that it does especially well in longstanding Napa Cabernet drinking markets, both on the coasts and the middle of the country. Ohio, for example, is “a market that has been drinking Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon for a long time,” he said. “That’s what they’re very comfortable with. So a lot of the collectors and buyers there know Heitz, they know Burgess, they know Stony Hill. These are household names.”

Stony Hill is another point of pride for McCoy. When the Lawrence family acquired the winery in late 2020, McCoy named Jaimee Motley as winemaker, bringing a new perspective. In a typical year, the winery produces roughly 5,000 cases and can max out at roughly 7,000. While Stony Hill will remain focused Chardonnay, replanting efforts have allowed Motley and McCoy to sow more red varietals as well. In addition, Demeine’s California lineup includes Ink Grade in the Howell Mountain AVA, and organically farmed Napa Valley label Brendel, all owned by the Lawrence family.

Imports are also an increasing part of the mix. Most recently, Demeine welcomed La Chablisienne to its range. The winery produces 25% of the wine made in the Chablis AOC, and can supply 40,000 to 60,000 nine-liter cases to the U.S. annually, Demeine said. La Chablisienne joins Domaine de Montille (Burgundy), Domaine Roc de l’Abbaye (Sancerre), and Maison Legras & Haas (Champagne) in the company’s expanding French portfolio. Also this spring, Demeine entered the Italy segment with a deal to import the wines of Barbaresco producer Cà Romé.

Among the company’s goals looking ahead are continuing to convert the Lawrence family estate wineries to biodynamic viticulture, upping the proportion from the current 75%, or roughly 450 acres. Continuing the momentum of the DTC business is also important, McCoy noted, with the past year seeing the opening of a new Heitz Tasting Salon and, in downtown Napa, a new tasting room for Brendel. “The work our brand ambassadors do in the market drives people to visit our estates in Napa. We then continue to stay connected with those guests through our DTC business,” said McCoy.—Shane English

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