Napa’s Araujo Estate Bought by Owners of Bordeaux’s Château Latour
Araujo Estate, one of Napa Valley’s elite Cabernet Sauvignon producers, has been purchased by the owners of French first-growth Château Latour. The Artemis Group, the financial company founded by French businessman François Pinault, announced it has added Araujo to an impressive roster of wineries in Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhône. The purchase price was not disclosed, but the deal includes the historic Eisele Vineyard and its 38 acres of vines, the winery and cave complex, the brand and existing inventory.
“Araujo Estate and its jewel, the unique Eisele Vineyard, have been producing consistently one of the very best wines of Napa Valley,” said Frédéric Engerer, CEO of Château Latour, in a statement.
Araujo is the latest purchase by the Pinault family, headed by François and son François-Henri, which through Artémis Group owns Latour, Domaine d’Eugénie in Burgundy and Château-Grillet in the Rhône Valley.
Bart and Daphne Araujo were not available for comment. The couple purchased Eisele Vineyard in 1990 from Milt and Barbara Eisele. Situated at the foot of the Palisades area southeast of Calistoga, Eisele Vineyard had been planted to vines since 1884 and is one of the most notable vineyards in Napa Valley. Its track record of stellar Cabernets dates back to the 1970s, including bottlings by Joseph Phelps Winery and Conn Creek.
The Araujos undertook a major replanting after the purchase and added new varieties, including Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc. In 2000, Bart told Wine Spectator why he quit his previous career in home construction to focus on wine: “Daphne and I believe that this property is too important not to devote full attention to it.”
The Araujos continued to make improvements on the property, first by hiring Bordeaux enologist Michel Rolland as a consultant, and then converting to the intensive farming practices of biodynamics in 2001. Engerer has been experimenting with biodynamics at Latour.
The current Araujo staff—including the winemaking team led by Françoise Peschon—will remain with the estate under its new ownership. The Araujos have said they will stay in residence at the estate until January to assist in the transition.