Four months ago we were told that Jim Barrett wanted to sell Chateau Montelena and we assumed there was a buyer. But now Barrett apparently can't sell it at the original terms or doesn't want to sell it at all.
Barrett had shopped the winery around for months and then accepted an offer so sell his Napa winery in July. But the deal fell through last week amidst the global credit crunch. The intended sale to French businessman Michel Reybier ended without the financing necessary to acquire the Napa Valley winery. This may be just the tip of the iceberg for many wineries seeking loans to finance or extend their businesses.
The press release made it seem like the Barretts suddenly realized their property’s value rather than expressing disappointment that the sale collapsed. "We find ourselves energized by the enthusiasm and vision expressed by all the parties who bid for ownership of Chateau Montelena," the statement read.
It now appears that Barrett’s son, master winemaker Bo Barrett, has had his role at the winery redefined. He will now continue as a limited partner, "contributing his experience and expertise as technical advisor and to special projects," according to a press release, leaving Cameron Parry and vineyard manager Dave Vella to oversee production. Parry and Vella may have in fact been winemakers in recent years. But this is the first time the winery has said as much.
We assumed that Reybier’s new team was already in place and ready to make what it said were significant changes to the winery. Now we’ll see if the Barretts think changes need to be made, or it's status quo at the famed Napa winery.
Plenty to consider given the magnitude of the deal that was and now isn’t.