Outpost, a highly regarded Napa Zinfandel specialist that was launched only a few years ago, has changed hands. Terry and Juli Pringle, who purchased the 42-acre Howell Mountain site in 1997, sold the winery quietly this summer to Frank and Kathy Dotzler of St. Helena, Calif. Neither party would disclose the price of the transaction, which included 18 acres of vines, the winery and the brand name.
The first Outpost bottling, an outstanding 1998 Zinfandel (93 points, $38), debuted at the 2000 Zinfandel Advocates and Producers tasting in San Francisco, earning praise for its polish and deeply concentrated flavors.
In '98, the winery's output was a modest 400 cases from 9 acres of Zinfandel, with about half of the crop going to Turley Vineyards, which made a Pringle Family Vineyard bottling. But now, with 10 more acres in production (6 of Cabernet Sauvignon, 3 of Petite Sirah and 1 of Grenache), the venture demanded more resources.
"To take it to the next level, we needed to hire a couple more people and probably would have had to renovate the winery," said Terry Pringle of the reason for the sale. "And to be quite honest, sometimes you get a financial offer you can't refuse."
This is the second wine venture for the Dotzlers, who moved to St. Helena last spring from Chicago, where they owned a company that makes computer casing and cables. In 1998, they bought 20 acres on Howell Mountain, which they planted in 2001 with a total of 9 acres of vines -- 7 of Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest devoted to the other Bordeaux varieties. They have yet to bottle their own wine.
Winemaking consultant Thomas Brown, who has worked at Outpost since its first vintage, will continue to oversee production, which should reach about 1,500 cases this year.
Check our recent ratings of Outpost wines.
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