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Guenoc Sale to Stimson Lane Falls Through


James Laube, Jacob Gaffney
Posted: June 26, 2000

California's Guenoc winery won't be joining the portfolio of Washington state's Stimson Lane wine group after all. On Monday, Guenoc owner Orville Magoon announced that the deal reached in February to sell Guenoc and Langtry Estate Vineyards & Winery, along with the Guenoc Ranch, to Stimson Lane for $100 million was off the table.

The deal had a deadline of June 23, which Stimson Lane's parent company, U.S. Tobacco, chose not to extend.

Stimson Lane's vice president of communications, Keith Love, said that U.S. Tobacco recently lost an antitrust lawsuit in the federal district court of Paducah, Ky. The plaintiff, Conwood, maker of Kodiak chewing tobacco, was awarded $1.05 billion in damages by a jury on March 28. U.S. Tobacco, maker of Skoal and Copenhagen chewing tobaccos, is fighting the verdict.

But Love says that although the verdict led to the termination of the Guenoc deal, it will not have an adverse effect on Stimson Lane, which owns the well-known Chateau Ste. Michelle wine brand, among others.

"Stimson Lane will continue to grow its wine business through acquisitions," Love said. "If someone had a winery in Napa County we'd be interested. We may even go back to Guenoc again, but this one deal is off." Love added that there was no bad blood between Stimson Lane and Guenoc.

Michael Schocher, a spokesman for Guenoc, echoed Love's comments and said that the decision to call off the deal was mutual. However, Schocher said it's too early to know if Guenoc would go back up for sale.

Guenoc's owners, Orville and Karen Melander Magoon, indicated early last year that they were willing to sell all or part of the property, which their family has owned since 1963. The deal with Stimson Lane would have included the Guenoc brand name, current inventory and winery.

Guenoc currently produces about 145,000 cases of wine each year, primarily of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and red and white Meritage [Bordeaux-style] blends. Two-thirds of the estate's 400 acres of vineyards are in Lake County, and one-third is in Napa Valley.

Besides Chateau Ste. Michelle, Stimson Lane owns Columbia Crest wines in Washington state and Villa Mt. Eden in Napa Valley.

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Learn more about the proposed deal:

  • Feb. 23, 2000
    Washington Wine Giant Agrees to Buy California's Guenoc Winery for $100 Million

    Learn more about Guenoc and the Magoons:

  • March 4, 1999
    Guenoc Winery's Owner May Part with California Property

  • Oct. 15, 1997
    From Water to Wine
    Orville Magoon dreams of matching Lafite in Guenoc Valley

    Read more about Stimson Lane:

  • Dec. 23, 1999
    Stimson Lane Expands Global Reach With Australian Venture

  • Sept. 15, 1999
    Top German Producer Teams Up With Chateau Ste. Michelle

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