Stan Kroenke, the American businessman who owns Screaming Eagle, Jonata and The Hilt vineyards in California, as well as several sports franchises, has purchased a majority stake in the prominent Burgundy winery Domaine Bonneau du Martray for an undisclosed price.
Bonneau du Martray, whose cellars are in Pernand-Vergelesses, has been in the Le Bault de la Morinière family since the French Revolution. The current generation was led by four brothers, including the manager of the estate, Jean-Charles Le Bault de la Morinière. The family will continue as partners in the domaine.
"It's really two families getting together," Armand de Maigret, who manages Kroenke's wine properties and will oversee production at Bonneau du Martray, told Wine Spectator. "The plan is for me to be the leader and to learn as much as I can from Jean-Charles. It's a fantastic property, and I will have plenty to do."
"The idea was to plan for the future of the domaine," Le Bault de la Morinière told Wine Spectator. "We will remain partners, and I will help as much as I can." The deal still has to be approved by the Société d'Aménagement Foncier et d'Établissement Rural (SAFER), an administrative group that oversees vineyard transactions in France.
Domaine Bonneau du Martray is the only property in Burgundy that only makes grands cru wines. Its holdings consist of 27 acres in a single parcel, 23.5 of which are Chardonnay for Corton-Charlemagne and 3.5 of which are planted to Pinot Noir for red Corton. The estate is the second-largest owner of Corton-Charlemagne land, and its wine is known for its class and longevity.
Since assuming the management of Bonneau du Martray from his father in 1994, Le Bault de la Morinière converted the vineyards to biodynamic cultivation and improved quality. The vineyard and cellar team will remain in place under the new partnership, according to de Maigret.
Kroenke, worth an estimated $7.4 billion, heads Denver-based Kroenke Sports Enterprises, LLC, which owns or co-owns several professional sports franchises, including the Denver Nuggets of the NBA, the Colorado Avalanche of the NHL, the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer and the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL. He's also the largest shareholder of English football club Arsenal and runs the Kroenke Group, a private real-estate and development company.
Kroenke entered the wine business with a bang in 2006 when he partnered with Charles Banks to buy Napa Cult Cabernet producer Screaming Eagle. (Kroenke bought out Banks' stakes in both Screaming Eagle and Santa Barbara winery Jonata in 2009.)