Are the owners of Duckhorn Vineyards ready to cash out? Dan Duckhorn, CEO and board chairman of the Napa Valley Merlot and Cabernet specialist, says that’s one option the six-person board of directors will debate within the next few weeks.
One thing is clear: Enough of the 80 shareholder families, who have owned interest in the company for years, are getting older and are now considering their options, one of which would be to sell their portion of the company. That could mean bringing in new investors, which the winery has done before, or it could mean the company might recapitalize.
The board could also recommend selling the company, which also owns Paraduxx in Napa, a winery that makes a unique blend of Cabernet and Zinfandel, and Goldeneye, a Pinot Noir house in Anderson Valley.
The board’s obligation is to “get the best shareholder return,” Duckhorn said. He added that while the company is not for sale currently, it could be put on the market if the board were to decide that selling it would be in the best interest of investors.
“There’s a lot of money sloshing out there [in the market],” he said, and there’s no shortage of investors who are keen on the wine business and its future.
Duckhorn, who founded the winery in 1978, said he's undecided about his specific plans. “I’m 68. ... You can read between the lines.”
Who might be interested in buying the company?
Duckhorn declined to speculate, but noted, “If I gave you my list of 10 candidates, and you gave me yours, they would probably be pretty close.” That short list of buyers usually includes Constellation, Diageo, Brown-Forman, Kendall-Jackson and Gallo.
Duckhorn said he would probably have more to say about the company’s future plans in three or four weeks.
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