Kistler Vineyards, the iconic producer of Sonoma Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, has sold a minority stake in the winery to Bill Price, owner of Sonoma Valley's Durell Vineyard. There will be no change in either the management or winemaking, which will continue to be overseen by Steve Kistler and Mark Bixler, who cofounded the winery in 1978.
Though the exact details of the deal weren't disclosed, including the size of Price's investment, Price said that he would be interested in increasing his interest in Kistler in the future.
"We are formalizing with an investment a relationship that's been going on for a number of years," said Kistler of the deal.
Price is no stranger to winery and vineyard dealings. Price owns Three Sticks Winery, a small Sonoma-based label he founded in 2002, and is also the cofounder of Texas Pacific Group, a private-equity investment firm that purchased Beringer from Nestle in 1995, and then sold it to Foster's for a reported $1.5 billion after taking it public in 2000. In 2006 Price, along with Quintessa's Huneeus family, made an unsuccessful bid to purchase Legacy Estates Group, which owns Napa Valley's Freemark Abbey, Arrowood in Sonoma, and Byron in the Santa Maria Valley.
Kistler has worked with Price since 1998, the year that Price acquired the 200-acre Durell Vineyard. Currently, Kistler sources Chardonnay grapes from Price to make 2,000 cases of Kistler Durell Chardonnay annually. But as part of the new arrangement, Kistler hopes to increase its production of that wine to 3,000 cases. Price will continue to sell grapes to other wineries from the Durell property.
Price and Kistler also are hoping to jointly acquire additional Pinot Noir vineyards in Sonoma to add to Kistler's portfolio of wines. Kistler currently produces more than 20,000 cases of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Sonoma County annually.
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