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Former Screaming Eagle Co-Owner Closes Deal with Sonoma's Wind Gap

Terroir Selections' Charles Banks buys 50 percent share; winery founder Pax Mahle to relaunch Pax Wine Cellars

Augustus Weed
Posted: March 28, 2013

Charles Banks, who formed his own investment group, Terroir Selections, after leaving cult producer Screaming Eagle, has closed a deal to buy a stake in Wind Gap winery. The sale includes a 50 percent share in the Sonoma winery as well as a separate brand called Agharta. The sales price for both brands was not disclosed.

As reported by Wine Spectator during negotiations, Pax Mahle will continue to produce the wines at both Wind Gap and Agharta while Terroir will handle sales and marketing. "It will allow me to focus on where my strengths are, which are not those areas,” said Mahle.

Banks said that the plan is to allow Mahle to focus on the wines while searching for additional vineyards to augment its current lineup. “It’s not so much about growing volume as it is about continuing to pursue quality,” he said. The winery will use purchased grapes for now, but, Banks added, “We’ve always got our eye open for the right opportunity to buy something.”

Mahle, who established a reputation for rich Syrahs at his eponymous Pax Wine Cellars label, founded Wind Gap in 2006. The winery produces a variety of grapes, mainly from cool-climate vineyards influenced by wind gaps. "The intent is not to be set on some sort of alcohol level but on what these vineyards produce naturally," said Mahle. He also founded Agharta, a separate label named after a record by jazz musician Miles Davis, which focuses on small-production wines from Bordeaux and Rhône varieties grown on mountain vineyards.

Mahle has other plans in the works as well. He told Wine Spectator that he is relaunching Pax Wine Cellars later this year (he left Pax after a dispute with co-owner Joe Donelan but retained the name as part of a legal settlement). The plan is to use some of Pax’s original vineyards, including Alder Springs and Castelli-Knight Ranch. The winery was not included in the Terroir deal.

This is the latest acquisition for Banks, who is assembling a global roster of wineries and brands at Terroir Selections. He is working with former Screaming Eagle winemaker Andy Erickson on a California project called Leviathan and tapped the winemaking skills of Adam Mason, formerly of Klein Constantia, for his Mulderbosch label in South Africa. And he is a partner with sommelier Rajat Parr on two separate brands in California and Burgundy. According to Banks, a collaborative project between the winemakers could also be in the works. “I’m a big believer in getting all of our different winemakers working together,” he said.

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