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Guenoc Winery's Owner May Part with California Property

Jeff Morgan
Posted: March 4, 1999

Guenoc Winery owner and Guenoc Valley pioneer Orville Magoon has indicated that he is ready to sell his winery and 22,000-acre property -- or a part of it -- for the right price.

The wealthy 71-year-old vintner, heir to a Hawaiian real estate fortune, has spent the last 35 years transforming Guenoc Valley, the nation's first single-proprietor American Viticultural Appellation, from grazing land into a 400-acre vineyard and winery that makes some exceptional wines, most notably Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

"This is my life," said Magoon. "To sell your life, it's got to be a high-enough offer." The vintner indicated that despite his love of grape-growing and winemaking, he just might have had enough of them after all these years.

Magoon has retained the services of New York investment company Morgan Stanley, which operates a real estate department, to handle all inquiries. Recently, a housing developer offered Magoon "a lot of money" for a significant portion of the property, where famous Victorian actress Lillie Langtry grew grapes and made wine in the late 1800s. The offer was ultimately turned down.

One-third of the sprawling Guenoc estate sits in Napa Valley, while two-thirds of it is part of Lake County. Several potential buyers, including a group from Japan, have visited the winery. "I think someone will acquire a part of this valley and build another winery," Magoon surmised, indicating that he had mixed feelings about selling his own winery. Nonetheless, he appeared ready to shift ownership. He concluded, "Something is going to happen."

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  • October 15, 1997
    From Water to Wine
    Former marine engineer Orville Magoon dreams of matching Lafite at his vast estate in California's Guenoc Valley

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