mardi 21 février 2012

Etats-Unis : la famille Stewart (Quails Estate Winery) rachète Plume Winery

One of B.C.’s oldest and best-known wine-producing families is expanding into California’s Napa Valley as a way to build an international brand. The Stewart family, which owns Quails’ Gate Estate Winery of West Kelowna, is undertaking what it calls a « significant expansion » into the U.S. and is now negotiating for a property of up to 40 acres. 

« Our focus is to diversify our family holdings, » said Tony Stewart, CEO and part owner of Quails’ Gate. The Stewarts – through their holding company, Bacas Holdings – are the lead partner in the venture, along with Daniel Zepponi, former president of the nearby Mission Hill Family Estate winery. 
The new venture, Plume Winery, is not linked to the Quails’ Gate brand. Stewart said the plan is to grow Plume in California to about 15,000 to 20,000 cases a year, with about $5 million in annual sales in five years’ time. Plume wines will initially be sold in Canadian liquor stores and select U.S. restaurants and retailers. 

Its 2009 vintage Cabernet Sauvignon, now produced in a customcrush facility in the Napa Valley with grapes supplied by California growers, recently started selling its first bottles in limited numbers in B.C. after releasing its first 1,250 cases. 

« It’s going really well, » Zepponi said of its sales in Canada, where a bottle sells for $29.99. « We put really good product in the bottle and priced it respectfully for the consumer. It’s a Napa Valley Cabernet, aged for two years. Relative to Napa Valley cabs, it’s good value for the quality that’s in the bottle. 

« Given the cachet and market demand for Napa cabs, we believe there is untapped potential for the affordable luxury of a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon in Canada. With our joint expertise in both markets and the strong Canadian dollar and economy, we have a unique opportunity to deliver good value wine into the Canadian market. » 

The idea is to ramp up production – first in Canada, then in the U.S. – by acquiring a stand-alone winery in the Napa Valley. 

Zepponi, who has worked with Napa wineries including Domaine Chandon and Beringer, said he’s in negotiations with two properties in California. 

Stewart said he and Zepponi have been working on the project for several years and noted that Zepponi grew up in the wine business at ZD Wines, a boutique winery on Napa’s Silverado Trail. 

« We’re looking for 30 to 40 acres and it’s $10 [million] to $20 million for a property of that type, » said Stewart. « We’ve learned there’s a lot of ideas around the world that [winemakers] don’t know about. By investing in regions outside Canada, we gain perspective on better winemaking and growing grapes. »