Chateau Woltner, a Chardonnay specialist in Napa Valley's Howell Mountain appellation, has been sold for $20 million to the owners of Ladera Vineyards.
Francis and Frangoise DeWavrin-Woltner, who founded the winery in 1985 after selling Chbteau La Mission-Haut-Brion in Bordeaux, are retiring from the wine business, according to their daughter, Frederique DeWavrin-Woltner, the winery's vice president of sales and marketing.
The sale includes the historic winery, originally built in 1886 and remodeled in the 1980s, along with 180 acres of land, including 53 acres of Chardonnay and 15 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and other red Bordeaux varieties. The estate produces about 10,000 cases annually.
For most of its 15 years, Chateau Woltner focused on a series of vineyard-designated Chardonnays -- Titus, Frederique and St. Thomas -- each made in a tight, flinty, non-malolactic style. The wines not used for the vineyard-designated bottlings went into a Howell Mountain Chardonnay. In 1995, the winery made its first Cabernet-based red, the Private Reserve Red Howell Mountain, an austere, tannic wine.
The new owners, the Stotesberys, own vineyard land in the Yountville area of Napa Valley. They plan to further refurbish the winery and replant the Chardonnay grapes to red Bordeaux varieties, for which Howell Mountain is better known, according to Pat Stotesbery.
"The purchase of Chateau Woltner allows us to span across the Napa Valley to produce wines from two notable and highly distinctive appellations," Stotesbery said. Ladera plans to release its first Cabernet from the Yountville appellation in fall 2002.
Check out recent ratings of Chateau Woltner wines.
Learn more about non-malolactic Chardonnays:
Chardonnay: Second Thoughts on Secondary Fermentation