Dallas entrepreneur Craig Hall and his wife, Kathryn, the owners of Kathryn Hall winery in Napa Valley, keep buying property. Earlier this month, they paid $8 million for the 2,300-acre Capell Creek Ranch, located northeast of the city of Napa, about one mile east of Atlas Peak vineyard.
With this acquisition, the Halls now own nearly 3,200 acres in Napa and Sonoma's Alexander Valley, of which almost 500 are planted with vines. They also own two winery facilities, where they made about 20,000 cases of Bordeaux varieties from the 2004 vintage. Most of their grapes are sold to other wineries.
The Halls have acquired most of their holdings in a relatively short period of time. They got started in the wine business in 1995 with the purchase of 19 acres of the Sacrashe Vineyard in Rutherford, but a warehouse fire destroyed their first two vintages, 1996 and 1997. They kicked into high gear after Kathryn finished a stint as U.S. Ambassador to Austria. In December 2002, they paid $8.5 million for a 185-acre vineyard in Napa Valley; a month later they purchased 405 acres in Alexander Valley for $11 million. Last year, they bought St. Supery's 254-acre Hardester Vineyard in Pope Valley.
The Capell Creek Ranch is to be renamed the Walt Ranch after Kathryn's parents. General manager Mike Reynolds does not yet know how much of the site, which is completely undeveloped, will be planted with vines. He anticipates that the rolling topography, which ranges in altitude between 800 feet and 2,150 feet and has a southeast and southwest exposure, should suit Cabernet Sauvignon. "After we have more data [about the soil and the climate], we'll decide what we want to do," Reynolds said.
Contrary to some published reports, Reynolds said, the Halls are not planning to develop houses on the land.
The Halls stirred up some controversy last summer by hiring renowned Modernist architect Frank Gehry, best known for the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain, to renovate the Hall winery in St. Helena, which they bought for $12 million in July 2003. The project has provoked concern in some area residents, who fear the impact of another destination winery along well-traveled Highway 29.
Gehry's revision of the initial plan should be resubmitted to the Napa county government within a month or two, after the public has a chance to review it. "We're trying to make sure everyone in the community sees it before we go back to the county," Reynolds said.