Vintage Wine Estates Buys California Pinot Noir Specialist Laetitia

The Arroyo Grande winery will become a hub for Vintage's Central Coast wine production and add sparkling wine to its growing portfolio
Vintage Wine Estates Buys California Pinot Noir Specialist Laetitia
Laetitia enjoys a spot in the Arroyo Grande Valley, roughly halfway between Santa Barbara and Paso Robles. (Jacob Lacey/Vintage Wine Estates)
Mar 19, 2019

Vintage Wine Estates is betting big on California's Central Coast. The Sonoma-based wine company has purchased Laetitia, a Pinot Noir and sparkling wine specialist that helped pioneer the cool Arroyo Grande Valley in the Central Coast region. The sale includes the brand, the winery and 287 acres of vines planted mostly to Pinot and Chardonnay, as well as an additional 400 plantable acres. The sale price was not disclosed, but an industry source told Wine Spectator that it's in the range of $30 million to $40 million.

Laetitia winemaker Eric Hickey will remain in his role, but owner Selim Zilkha, 91, will be stepping back from the business. The winery produces 35,000 cases of still wine a year, but has the capacity to produce 120,000 cases, and Vintage plans to make the facility a hub for its Central Coast wine production, including its canned wine brand, Alloy Wine Works. It also plans to build a new winery for Qupé, another Central Coast brand it recently bought, on the nearly 2,000-acre property.


Stay on top of important wine stories with Wine Spectator's free Breaking News Alerts.


"Laetitia has a great history and great scores," Vintage Wine Estates CEO Pat Roney told Wine Spectator. He says Laetitia's sparkling wines were also a draw, filling a category that was missing from the company's portfolio.

Laetitia was the former home of Maison Deutz, which was built along Highway 101 in southern San Louis Obispo County by France's Champagne Deutz in the 1980s, as its California outpost. It was later renamed Laetitia.

Zilkha, who was born in Iraq and moved to the U.S. as a child, made his fortune as founder of several energy companies before he bought the winery in 2001. Laetitia continued to make sparkling wine but it is best-known for its still Pinot Noirs and Chardonnay.

"We are very proud of the winery we have created here," said Hickey, who has been working at Laetitia for nearly 22 years. "I'm excited about the energy that [Vintage Wine Estates] is going to bring, and their focus."

Roney says Vintage will boost Laetitia's wine production up to 70,000 cases annually. It plans to grow the vineyard, adding Rhône varieties, and will use some of the grapes to bolster its other labels, such as Layer Cake and Cameron Hughes. But the company does not plan to change the trajectory of Laetitia's wines. "We bought [Laetitia] because of the fabulous style of the wines and won't change that," said Roney.

The deal is part of Vintage Wine Estate's larger move to expand into the Central Coast. The company has been on a buying spree of late, acquiring Santa Barbara–based Qupé in November 2018. Earlier this year it purchased the Alloy Wine Works brand from Field Recordings in Paso Robles, adding canned wine to its lineup.

Vintage now owns more than 30 brands, representing roughly 2 million cases of annual production. "We think the Central Coast is a strategic area to be in," Roney explained, adding that Laetitia will give the company greater access to markets in Southern California.

Winery Purchases and Sales United States California News

You Might Also Like

Chateau Ste. Michelle Without the Chateau?

Chateau Ste. Michelle Without the Chateau?

Washington state's biggest winery puts its flagship Woodinville property on the market

Jun 24, 2022
2 Restaurants Win New Grand Awards in 2022

2 Restaurants Win New Grand Awards in 2022

Wine Spectator recognizes dining destinations in New York and Napa Valley with its top …

Jun 23, 2022
Exclusive: Foley Family Wines Buys Napa’s Silverado Vineyards

Exclusive: Foley Family Wines Buys Napa’s Silverado Vineyards

Vintner, finance executive and hockey team owner Bill Foley secures 300 acres of Napa vines …

Jun 21, 2022
Josh Jensen, Founder of Calera Wine Company, Dies at 78

Josh Jensen, Founder of Calera Wine Company, Dies at 78

The California pioneer turned his passion for Pinot Noir into one of the state's most …

Jun 13, 2022
Instagram Live Chats: View Wine Spectator's Upcoming Schedule

Instagram Live Chats: View Wine Spectator's Upcoming Schedule

Our next episode features J Vineyards winemaker Nicole Hitchcock

Jun 26, 2022
Napa Valley Barrel Auction Raises $1.5 Million in Collective Napa Valley Debut

Napa Valley Barrel Auction Raises $1.5 Million in Collective Napa Valley Debut

The Napa Valley Vintners association has replaced the landmark Auction Napa Valley charity …

Jun 8, 2022