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Foley Family Wines Buys Langtry Estate and Vineyards

Vintner Bill Foley expands his wine company with Lake County winery

Augustus Weed
Posted: November 28, 2012

Bill Foley, whose growing wine company includes more than 16 brands across the West Coast and in New Zealand, has closed a deal to purchase a majority stake in Langtry Estate and Vineyards in California's Lake County. The sale includes the Langtry brand, the winery, 500-acres of land with 150 planted to vines, and sister label Guenoc. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

The winery’s previous owner, Langtry Farms, will retain the majority of the Langtry Estate, which includes about 23,000 acres stretching south into Napa County. That makes it one of the largest grapegrowers in Lake County, a region increasingly prized by winemakers for its value and good quality.

Foley has been vocal about his intent to expand into Lake County, which is located just north of Napa Valley. Combined, the Langtry and Guenoc brands produce about 150,000 cases annually, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Petite Sirah and Sauvignon Blanc. While Foley said that he is impressed with the wines and plans to grow the brands, it was the land that caught his attention. Foley's 500-acre portion of the estate lies in the Guenoc Valley part of the county. “Really the big upside is this acreage that’s going to be planted,” Foley told Wine Spectator.

As part of the sale, Foley will also become a minority owner in Langtry Farms’ new vineyards in Napa. The Langtry Farms’ property extends into Pope Valley and the company is planting 580 acres of vineyards there to Bordeaux varieties, with plans to expand in the future.

Foley said he would keep the current winemaker, Eric Stine, for the Langtry and Guenoc brands, and focus on the existing varietals. But he said he is considering growing both brands. “This easily could be my second-biggest group of brands in my portfolio,” he said. To accomplish his goal he plans to plant another 50 acres to Bordeaux varieties.

This is the fifth acquisition this year for Foley, and the third this month. He bought Lancaster Estate in early November and a few weeks later purchased Ramal East Vineyard on the Sonoma side of Carneros. The Ramal vineyard includes nearly 206 acres planted mainly to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and will primarily be used to supplement a new line of Sonoma wines for his Chalk Hill winery.

The sales, according to Foley, are part of his effort to increase the size of his portfolio and gain better distribution. This Langtry deal puts Foley Family Wines’ total production at nearly 1 million cases annually. “What I’m really trying to do is make sure that I’ve got my varietals covered and my appellations covered with property that we own or that we have influence over,” he said.

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