When someone pays $40 million for a boutique winery in Napa Valley, as someone apparently did last month, it essentially means that everyone is for sale. Who would turn down $40 million for a 12-acre, 600-case operation, even if the Cabernet sells for $600 a bottle?
As rumors of the sale spread, several names were mentioned. When I asked a few owners about the numbers, and whether they would sell for that kind of price, all said they'd definitely consider it.
The $40 million Sloan sale price hasn't been confirmed, but many Napans insist that's what it is. Stuart Sloan wouldn't say much about the sale except to confirm it took place. Those who claim to have knowledge of the deal say it all happened very fast and that the buyer, apparently from Hong Kong, made Sloan a surprise offer that he couldn't refuse.
I emphasize that the numbers here are mostly conjecture.
Still, if the $40 million is exaggerated by even twice, it's still a considerable amount to pay for 12 acres of Cabernet. Even at $250,000 an acre, that only comes to $3 million. And the inventory, even if it is 2,000 cases at full mark up of $600 a bottle, might be $14 million.
Deals like this are rare, yet they occur from time to time. Occasionally local vintners are willing to pay exorbitant prices for precious land. Other times it comes from outsiders willing to spend any amount to own a crown jewel Napa property. The sale of Screaming Eagle in 2006 is now thought to be closer to $70 million, far higher than the guesstimates of around $30 million at the time of the sale.
So whether the $40 million Sloan figure is accurate matters less perhaps than the fact that people are looking to buy the right property. Any businessman would have to give serious thought to that kind of offer.