One of Washington's biggest wine companies, Stimson Lane Vineyards and Estates, is buying the 23,000-acre Guenoc Winery and Ranch in California. Sources indicate that the parent company of Columbia Crest and Chateau Ste. Michelle wineries is paying just under $100 million for the Guenoc brand name, winery and inventory.
Guenoc's owners, Orville and Karen Melander Magoon, indicated last spring that they were willing to sell all or part of the property, which the family has owned since 1963. "The winery is too large and challenging for our little family to maximize the potential," said Karen.
The couple hired New York investment firm Morgan Stanley to mediate any offers. Although the property had several suitors in the past year, the Magoons held off, saying they would only sell to the right buyer and for the right price.
"This is a really good fit for us and the Magoons," said Keith Love, vice president of communications at Stimson. "We're very excited about being down there, and are very interested in returning a lot of the land to the natural habitat."
Stimson Lane's purchase of Guenoc adds another California property to its portfolio, which also includes Villa Mt. Eden in Napa Valley. The company now owns all 1,200 acres of the Guenoc Valley, the nation's first single-owner American Viticultural Area.
Guenoc currently produces about 145,000 cases of wine each year, primarily 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, with the remainder in Napa Valley.
Stimson will begin expanding Guenoc's vineyards in 2001, but has not yet determined how much of the property will be planted to vines.
The past 12 months have been busy ones for Stimson Lane. In December, the company announced a joint venture with Petaluma vineyards in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia to produce a premium line of Australian wine. Earlier in the year, Stimson Lane revealed plans to produce a Washington Riesling with Ernst Loosen of Germany's Mosel region. And in March 1999, the company released the first Col Solare wines, a blend of Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot made with Marchese Antinori of Tuscany.
Learn more about Guenoc and the Magoons: