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France’s AXA Millésimes Buys Outpost Winery in Napa Valley

The insurance company gains a Howell Mountain property; winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown will remain
Winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown, here at another client's vineyard, will remain at Outpost for at least three years.
Photo by: Curt Fischer
Winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown, here at another client's vineyard, will remain at Outpost for at least three years.

Mitch Frank, James Laube
Posted: July 23, 2018

AXA Millésimes, the wine division of the French insurance giant, is expanding to California. The company, which owns wineries in Bordeaux, Burgundy, Portugal and Hungary, is purchasing Outpost, a winery on Napa Valley’s Howell Mountain, from Kathy and Frank Dotzler. The sale includes the brand, inventory, the winery facility and 28 acres of vines, as well as 14 unplanted acres. The purchase price was not disclosed, but a source familiar with the deal says AXA is paying approximately $40 million.

Thomas Rivers Brown, who has been winemaker at Outpost for almost 20 years, will remain at the winery for at least three years.

“We have been looking to make an acquisition in Napa Valley for some time," said Christian Seely, managing director of AXA Millésimes, in a statement. "The Dotzler family together with their winemaker Thomas Brown have succeeded in making truly great wines at Outpost Wines: first identifying the potential of the vineyard terroir when they began the project, and then by the twenty years of hard work and dedication to excellence that have brought these wines to the level they have reached today."

Terry and Juli Pringle founded Outpost in 1998 after buying the remote property. Consulting winemaker Ehren Jordan made the initial wines, then handed the reins to one of his students, Thomas Rivers Brown.

The Dotzlers bought Outpost in 2003. Under their ownership, it has become a source of outstanding wines, including Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah and Grenache. Brown has also used their winery as a custom-crush facility for his many clients. Outpost produces less than 3,000 cases per year, but Brown makes an additional 22,000 for various projects.

AXA Millésimes is the wine division of AXA, a leading French insurance company. It owns multiple estates around the world, including Château Pichon-Longueville Baron in Bordeaux, Domaine de l’Arlot in Burgundy, Quinta do Noval in Portugal’s Douro Valley and Disznókő in Hungary.

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