Craig and Lee Jaffurs have agreed to sell Jaffurs Wine Cellars in California's Santa Barbara County to their neighbor Daniel Green, the winemaker and co-owner of Conarium Wines. Terms were not disclosed, but the acquisition includes the Jaffurs tasting room in downtown Santa Barbara, the winery and all inventory.
At a time when many small California wineries are being purchased by large companies or investment firms, the sale of one family-owned winery to the owner of another is atypical.
Craig Jaffurs came to wine from the aerospace industry, where he worked for 17 years as a cost analyst. During the mid-1980s, Jaffurs spent much of his spare time getting a hands-on winemaking education from Santa Barbara Winery's Bruce McGuire. With the encouragement of his wife, Lee, Jaffurs released his first commercial wine in 1994, and has since received dozens of outstanding scores for his Syrah, Grenache and Petite Sirah.
Regarded as a trailblazer for making Rhône wines in Santa Barbara, Jaffurs, 60, now has early retirement on his mind. "I just can't do the winemaking anymore, and that's what I enjoy most," Jaffurs told Wine Spectator, explaining that he had recently had hip replacement surgery. "I wanted to preserve my life's work, and keep it in a position to make better wines for the next 20 years, and I'm going to do my best to make sure Dan is successful in doing that."
Green, 36, is the cofounder and winemaker of the Santa Barbara–based Conarium Wines. Green started the brand with friend Greg Nelson in 2012. He lives in Santa Barbara while Nelson is in Sonoma County, allowing them to oversee the selection and harvest of wines from both regions.
Green had been looking to buy a winery, and the opportunity to purchase Jaffurs fell into his lap. "We've been looking to grow our footprint in the industry, and it just happened that Craig was thinking about maybe selling," said Green, noting that he wanted to find a mature winery with a proven track record to make and sell quality wines. "We just got lucky it happened so quickly."
Most important to Jaffurs, there will be no changes to the winery or staff. Winemakers Matt Brady and Stephen Searle will remain at the cellar helm, and Dave Yates will continue as general manager. Green said that after the upcoming harvest, he plans to sit down with the team and discuss possible new directions, potentially adding new varietals to the 5,000-case winery.
Jaffurs said he's excited to see how far Green's energy and passion for wine will take the winery. "I plan to impart in him what made me successful and encourage his new ideas."