Pacific Echo Cellars, a sparkling wine producer based in Mendocino County, has been sold to a subsidiary of Champagne Louis Roederer. This is the second ownership change for the winery, which is resuming business under the estate's original name, Scharffenberger Cellars.
As of July 1, Pacific Echo Cellars became the property of the Mendocino Land Company, which also owns Roederer Estate in Mendocino's Anderson Valley, vineyards in Mendocino and Maisons Marques & Domaines USA, the American marketing arm of Champagne Roederer. The sale price was not disclosed.
The acquisition includes Pacific Echo's 120 acres of vineyards, winery and tasting room, as well as the Scharffenberger Cellars brand name. The Pacific Echo label itself was not sold. The tasting room is scheduled to reopen to the public on Sept. 1.
"We purchased the winery because of our belief in the California sparkling-wine category and because of the opportunity it offered to expand our flavor profile," said Greg Balogh, president and CEO of Maisons Marques & Domaines. "There is also so much history behind the Scharffenberger name."
The Scharffenberger brand will be positioned in a different niche than the Roederer Estate bubblies, which are made solely from estate vineyards and priced from around $19 for its non-vintage brut to around $45 for the vintage-dated L'Ermitage cuvée.
This month, the winery is releasing a Scharffenberger non-vintage brut, a blend of two-thirds Pinot Noir and one-third Chardonnay, priced at $15 a bottle. The first wines were made from selections from Pacific Echo's inventory. The winery plans to make a richer, fruitier, more approachable style than the more complex, drier, higher acidity Roederer Estate wines.
For now, Scharffenberger is aiming for a production of about 25,000 cases. "At this point, we are just going with the brut, but we are always looking at new opportunities down the road," said Balogh.
Winemaker Tex Sawyer, along with most of the Pacific Echo staff, will remain on under the new ownership. Grapes for the Scharffenberger label will continue to be sourced from the estate vineyards as well as from other Mendocino sites.
Founded by John Scharffenberger in 1981, the winery made some of California's best sparklers. Champagne Pommery became a partner in 1989, and in 1995, Pommery's parent company, Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH), bought him out. The winery's name was changed to Pacific Echo in 1998. Scharffenberger now maintains no active involvement in the business. and instead has focused on his designer Scharffen Berger chocolate business since 1997.
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