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Napa's Colgin Cellars Sells Majority Stake to French Luxury Titan LVMH

Bernard Arnault's Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton group adds a Napa cult Cabernet star to their growing luxury-wine portfolio
Photo by: Courtesy LVMH
Colgin Cellars enjoys a prime spot on Pritchard Hill.

Aaron Romano
Posted: November 21, 2017

Colgin owners Ann Colgin and her husband, Joe Wender, have agreed to sell 60 percent of their Napa Valley winery to French luxury conglomerate LVMH. The deal includes the brand, the winery and its 26 acres of vineyards. Colgin and Wender will stay on in leadership roles, as will COO Paul Roberts, and winemaker Allison Tauziet will continue to make the wines. The sale price was not disclosed.

"Their ethos of luxury and spirit of entrepreneurship resonated with us," Colgin told Wine Spectator. "Their track record of championing hand-crafted products and showcasing them to the world made us confident that a partnership would preserve the quality of our wines and the spirit of excellence that has inspired us for the past quarter-century."

Founded by Ann and her then-husband, Fred Schrader, in 1992, Colgin has become one of Napa's cult classics, with limited-production Cabernet Sauvignons and a Syrah that command prices exceeding $500 per bottle and sell exclusively to mailing-list members and high-end restaurants and retailers. Its wines regularly earn outstanding to classic ratings from Wine Spectator. Total annual production is approximately 4,000 cases.

The winery and estate vineyards are located in one of Napa's most sought-after locales, on Pritchard Hill, in the eastern hills above St. Helena. They also own the historic Tychson Hill Vineyard near Calistoga, which Colgin has restored. The brand also purchases grapes from David Abreu's Madrona Ranch on the western side of St. Helena for their Cariad bottling.

"We were not looking for a partner," said Colgin. "After a social introduction to Bernard Arnault several months ago, we began discussions with the LVMH team."

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton is the world's largest luxury-goods company, and its portfolio includes some of France's most prominent wine brands, including Moët & Chandon, Dom Pérignon, Veuve Clicquot, Krug, Ruinart, Château Cheval-Blanc and Château d'Yquem. The company also represents Napa's Chandon and Newton wineries, as well as other notables from around the world, including Terrazas de los Andes, Cheval des Andes, Cloudy Bay, Cape Mentelle, Bodega Numanthia and Ao Yun. The company is also known for its fashion and luxury brands, which include Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Sephora.

Courtesy LVMH
Ann Colgin and Joe Wender at Colgin Cellars.

"We share with Colgin Cellars the same desire to offer the very best quality products," Arnault, chairman and CEO of LVMH, said in a statement. "I am delighted to welcome Colgin's unique heritage, reaffirming our strategy of selective acquisition of the best existing terroirs, and enriching our collection of iconic wines."

International luxury companies see profit potential in Napa wineries. François Pinault's Artemis Group, which owns fashion brands Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, and Château Latour in Bordeaux and Domaine Eugénie and Domaine Clos de Tart in Burgundy, purchased the Eisele Vineyard in 2013. And in 2015, Chanel added Rutherford's St. Supéry to its roster of Bordeaux estates. As competition among luxury wine brands becomes fiercer, global companies offer marketing and distribution muscle. LVMH recently launched an American division of its online retail site, Clos19.

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