Stagecoach Vineyard Sells for $180 Million

Gallo's purchase of famed mountain vineyard in Napa Valley closes

by Paul Franson
wine vineyard stagecoach sale gallo
E. & J. Gallo's purchase of Stagecoach Vineyard closed April 13 with a purchase price of $180 million.

Napa Valley, Calif.—E. & J. Gallo Winery’s trend of buying top assets continued April 13, when the deal closed for the Modesto, Calif.-based company to purchase the prestigious Stagecoach Vineyard property that straddles the Atlas Peak American Viticultural Area and the Pritchard Hill region. The deal included eight parcels at a total purchase price of $180 million, according to the deeds recorded in Napa County. The total price also reportedly included non-real estate items that would make the total price even higher.

Gallo bought the 1,300-acre property from Dr. Jan Krupp, who acquired the property in 1995. The vineyard spans altitudes from 1,200 to 1,750 feet above sea level in a “hanging bowl,” a desirable mountainous valley overlooked by Atlas Peak itself. Vines are planted on 600 acres.

The Stagecoach Vineyard purchase continues Gallo’s recent strategy of acquiring brands moving up in the market—and acquiring top vineyards and winemaking properties to supply them.

Gallo’s aggressive moves mirror that of other ambitious family wine companies. While publicly held corporations like Constellation, Diageo and Treasury shed assets to improve return on investment, major family-owned wine companies such as Gallo, Jackson, Delicato, Trinchero, Foley, Vintage and Wilson are digging in for the long haul with added brands, wineries and vineyard acreage.

In 2015, Gallo bought the 642-acre Cypress Ranch and Palisades Vineyard in Pope Valley next to the Sun Lake Vineyard, already farmed by Gallo. The properties are in the Napa Valley AVA though distinct geographically and lying at considerably higher elevation (700 feet to 1,200 feet). The same year, the company bought The Ranch, a custom-crush winery in St. Helena once owned by the Trinchero family.

In Sonoma County, Gallo bought the historic Asti winery in 2015. The 535-acre Alexander Valley property included 275 acres of grapes and one of the largest production facilities in Sonoma County. The company also purchased J Vineyards and Winery in Healdsburg, Calif., in 2015 to capitalize on the boom in sparkling wine.

Gallo also acquired the Souverain brand from Treasury Wine Estates in 2015.

The following year (2016) saw Gallo purchase the Napa-based Orin Swift brand.

A prime property
The Atlas Peak property contains more than 600 acres of vineyards planted to a variety of grapes with valuable Cabernet Sauvignon being most prominent. The grapes grow in a variety of soil depths and types, exposure and microclimates. An earlier estimate of the land’s value based on $200,000 per planted acre put the sale price at at least $120 million.

Announcing the purchase, Roger Nabedian, senior vice president and general manager of Gallo’s Premium Wine Division, said, “This purchase affirms Gallo’s commitment to compete in the luxury wine segment and provides us the opportunity to continue making and selling luxury wine offerings such as Louis M. Martini, William Hill Estate and Orin Swift.”

Stagecoach already was supplying grapes to Martini and William Hill, as well as about 90 other wineries including the Krupp Brothers label. Some of the clients are quite large, though many are boutique operations. More than 30 wineries bear the Stagecoach name on their label.

Gallo has promised to fulfill existing contracts, but it intends to use the site’s grapes for its own brands eventually.

That could affect the many wineries who buy grapes, and at least one winemaker who now buys Atlas Peak fruit admits it will be a problem. Napa Valley grapes are already in high demand and expensive, and few new vineyards are likely to be planted due to severe environmental restrictions as well as geography, geology and water shortages.

Zepponi & Co. served as the exclusive financial advisor to Stagecoach Vineyards.


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