Dallas entrepreneur Craig Hall and his wife Kathryn, owners of Napa Valley’s Hall winery, are taking on a new challenge. The couple has acquired majority ownership in Roessler, a Pinot Noir and Chardonnay producer based in Sonoma. Founder Roger Roessler will remain a partner and be involved in the sales and promotion of the brand. The sale price was not disclosed.
Roessler currently produces 7,000 cases a year. It owns three estate vineyards but mainly purchases grapes, focusing on small-production single-vineyard Pinots from Mendocino, Sonoma and the Central Coast, and larger production appellation blends. Roger, a restaurateur, founded the winery in 2000, and his brother, Richard, joined the company several years later.
The winery had been looking for a partner for some time before Hall approached them. Prior to closing the sale, Roessler told Wine Spectator that he was “looking for someone who can help us take the wine to the next level.” With Hall’s resources the brand can expand its portfolio. According to Roessler, the focus will be on growing its appellation-blended wines over the next few years.
The acquisition will allow Hall to expand into Pinot and Chardonnay, something the company has always been interested in. And despite a slow economy, the Halls felt that the time was right. “Craig and Kathryn, as well as myself, have always been big lovers and admirers of Pinot Noir,” says winery president Mike Reynolds. But they didn’t want to change the focus of Hall winery, which produces Merlot- and Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines, as well as Sauvignon Blanc.
The Roessler wines will be produced at Hall’s St. Helena facility. Roessler winemaker Scott Shapley will consult with Hall’s head winemaker Steve Leveque on the 2010 vintage. It’s unclear whether Shapely will stay on after that.
As part of the deal, Roger Roessler will retain partial ownership and will continue to work on his own separate brand, R2, which will focus on Pinot, Chardonnay and Rhône varieties produced from regional blends and bulk wine. The R2 wines will be priced between $20 and $30, and Roessler is hoping to sell them through restaurants, web sales and a new tasting room he is building in Sonoma.
Roessler is just the latest venture for the prolific Halls. They jumped into the wine industry in 1995, purchasing the 38-acre Sacrashe Vineyard in Napa Valley’s Rutherford district. After a lull when Kathryn served as U.S. ambassador to Austria, the couple continued to expand their company and now own more than 500 acres of vines in Napa and Alexander Valley.
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