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Napa's Clos Pegase Sold

Vintage Wine Estates, backed by Leslie Rudd, plans to boost production; art collection not included in sale

Tim Fish
Posted: August 21, 2013

Napa Valley's Clos Pegase Winery, known for its wine as well as its art collection and dramatic Michael Graves architecture, was purchased Tuesday by Vintage Wine Estates. The sale includes the 25,000-case winery near Calistoga, 215 acres of vineyards, the brand and inventory. The sales price was not disclosed.

Clos Pegase owner Jan Shrem, 83, reportedly had been shopping for a buyer for more than a year. Leslie Rudd, owner of gourmet grocery chain Dean & DeLuca and Rudd Winery in Napa Valley, is a key investor in the Sonoma County-based Vintage Wine Estates, which has a portfolio of wineries that includes Girard, Cosentino, Cartlidge & Browne and Ray's Station. 

“We thought it was an iconic property and we wanted it in our portfolio,” Vintage managing partner Pat Roney said. The new owners plan to add vine acreage and replant sections of the winery’s two existing vineyards in Calistoga and Carneros, with a new emphasis on Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Richard Sowalsky will remain as winemaker and will consult with Vintage chief winemaker Marco Di Giulio. Roney said no winemaking stylistic changes are planned. “The quality overall is good. We don’t see a flaw in their winemaking.” Winery production is expected to expand. Roney said the permit allows for 80,000 cases annually.

Shrem was not available for comment. Shrem and wife, Mitsuko Shrem, who died in 2010, entered the wine business in 1983 when they purchased a 50-acre vineyard in Calistoga. André Tchelistcheff made the first wines in 1985. Graves beat out 95 other entrants in the winery’s architecture competition to design a “temple to wine.” The dramatic structure, completed in 1987, has been a busy tourist attraction ever since.

The winery and surrounding grounds are adorned with hundreds of pieces of art, ranging from wine-related antiquities to modern sculptures and paintings by the likes of Henry Moore, Robert Morris and Richard Serra. While Roney said that art will remain an important theme at Clos Pegase, the collection was not included in the sale. Shrem is reportedly donating much of it to other institutions.

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