E. & J. Gallo, the world's largest family-owned wine company, continues to see premium wine as the future. Wine Spectator has learned that the company has agreed to buy Stagecoach Vineyard, a 1,300-acre site on Pritchard Hill in Napa Valley. The rocky hillside site has 600 planted acres of vines in an area increasingly recognized for producing quality fruit. It is also the largest contiguous vineyard in Napa at a time when vineyard land is becoming more and more precious. A purchase price has not been disclosed.
"It's a significant investment for the Gallo family," Roger Nabedian, senior vice president and general manager of Gallo's Premium Wine Division, told Wine Spectator. "But it is exciting that we're furthering our commitment to quality wine."
Dr. Jan Krupp bought the site in 1995, just four years after he shifted his focus from medicine to winemaking. The land languished on the market for some time because no one thought it could be developed. Krupp and his brother Bart spent seven years clearing dense areas of scrub oak, huge rocks and boulders. But the work paid off when the vines planted in the reddish volcanic soils, primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, began bearing fruit.
Today, Stagecoach sits in a popular area, near well-known names like Bryant Family Vineyard and Dalla Valle. Krupp sells fruit to more than 90 wineries, including Alpha Omega, Caymus, Duckhorn and Pahlmeyer. Gallo had been buying fruit for its Louis Martini Winery for some time and, according to Nabedian, began chatting with Krupp after it purchased another Stagecoach client, Orin Swift, in 2016. As part of the agreement, Gallo will honor all existing contracts. Krupp will continue to work with the property for the foreseeable future.
"While my decision to sell was not simple, I was delighted to find a buyer that is committed to continuing the tradition of excellence and the pursuit of enhancing the world-class vineyard I have created," said Krupp, in a statement. Later in the day, Krupp Brothers, the wine brand Krupp continues to run with his brother Bart, sent an email to clients announcing that they had purchased a winery and two tasting rooms.
According to Nabedian, the deal will help Gallo grow Orin Swift and Louis Martini, and down the road it may help it with new projects. Long known for its commercial wines, Gallo has gradually shifted into the premium and luxury segments in the past two decades, purchasing or establishing quality California wineries and importing leading foreign wines. "This purchase affirms Gallo's commitment to compete in the luxury wine segment," said Nabedian.