One of the leading wineries in South Africa has a new owner, as the fallout from Terroir Capital founder Charles Banks' conviction on federal fraud charges continues. Third Leaf Wines, a new California-based firm, has purchased the renowned Mulderbosch winery in Stellenbosch from Terroir for an undisclosed price. The deal includes the brand, the winery and 136 acres of vineyards.
"Mulderbosch is an iconic brand," said Alex Pagon, managing partner for Third Leaf Partners, parent company of Third Leaf Wines. "For decades, the winery has produced outstanding wines and has been a category leader with a strong and amazingly successful history in the United States and Europe."
Third Leaf Partners is a San Francisco–based investment firm that provides capital and strategic management support to wineries and hotels, including brands like Evening Land and Blackberry Farm. The company recently formed Third Leaf Wines as part of an effort to expand its portfolio and grow its investments in wineries. They currently own, import and/or distribute a small collection of boutique brands from Italy, France, Oregon and New York.
Mulderbosch was founded in 1989. It has become a leader in South Africa's Stellenbosch region—the winery currently sells about 40,000 cases annually in the U.S. Most famous for its Chenin Blanc, Mulderbosch also produces Sauvignon Blanc, a red Bordeaux blend and a rosé, often earning outstanding ratings.
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In 2010, U.S.-based investment firm Terroir Capital purchased the South African winery. However, Terroir Capital founder Charles Banks pleaded guilty to fraud in 2017 after facing charges stemming from his work as a financial adviser for former NBA star Tim Duncan. Banks stepped down from his role at Terroir, but the firm has been transitioning, parting ways with winemaker Pax Mahle and selling Qupé.
Pagon worked at Terroir Capital before Third Leaf, serving as COO and lead underwriter. The deal was completed at the end of 2018, but the firm waited to announce it until it began distributing the wines in the U.S. last month.
Pagon says they hope to continue building on Mulderbosch's success in the U.S. as well as Europe. Third Leaf also recently hired Bob Guinn, former senior vice president of sales for importer Wilson Daniels, to head its sales operation.
Chriantó Oosthuizen, the CEO of Mulderbosch, and Adam Mason, head of winemaking, became partners in the business as well, and will be staying on at the winery. "I am really happy to be working with Alex and the team," Mason told Wine Spectator.