Did the pool man get the scoop?
That's what some say about how word leaked out that Jean-Charles Boisset and Gina Gallo have purchased the former residence of Robert Mondavi in Napa Valley.
The 56-acre property in Yountville where the famous vintner and his wife, Margrit, resided for years came on the market in 2010 for $25 million. The price was cut first to $20 million and then later to $13.9 million in a sealed bid sale this fall. The auction closed without meeting the minimum; subsequently a deal was made, but the sale price, said to be slightly below the minimum, and the buyer were not identified.
Jean-Charles Boisset confirmed for Wine Spectator late yesterday that he and Gallo, a married couple with twin daughters born in May 2011, were indeed the winning bidders. Word seems to have spread when a person who cleans the pool at the former Mondavi residence, apparently not aware of any confidentiality agreements, revealed who the buyers were.
It doesn't matter now. Boisset and Gallo wanted to keep the matter private, but that would have been difficult. They are two of the biggest names in wine, and both companies that share their names have been busy of late.
Burgundy-based Boisset Family Estates, of which Jean-Charles is president, has purchased several California wineries in the past several years, including Lockwood Vineyard in Monterey County in November 2011, Buena Vista in Sonoma in spring 2011, Raymond in Napa Valley (where Boisset has its U.S. headquarters) in 2009, and DeLoach in Sonoma in 2003. Earlier this month, the company announced it had acquired the French firm Skalli Family Wines, based in the southern region of Languedoc.
California-based giant Gallo has a new line of wines featuring Gina as the winemaker; her name is prominently showcased on the front label of the new Signature Series. In recent years, Ms. Gallo—granddaughter of the late Julio Gallo—had been keeping a lower profile after she had appeared in numerous ads as the new public face of the famous winemaking family.
The couple is acquiring a luxurious estate by any measure. The 11,500-square-foot home, owned by Mondavi's family after his death, is located in the Stags Leap District, atop a knoll between Silverado Trail and Yountville. It has a wine cellar and a 50-foot swimming pool in the living room, with a retractable roof, along with a guesthouse, two tennis courts and room for 2 acres of vines.
Both Tim and Michael Mondavi live nearby, making the hilltop area—known as Wappo Hill—home to Mondavi, Mondavi, Gallo and Boisset.
Highlights from Robert Mondavi’s former Napa Valley home; click to expand images.