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Jess Jackson Makes Another Purchase

Murphy-Goode brand now under Jackson, who will lease the winery and buy grapes from the Murphy family

Tim Fish
Posted: June 23, 2006

Jess Jackson, founder of Kendall-Jackson, is continuing his recent buying spree. Earlier this week his company, Jackson Family Wines, agreed to purchase the Robert Pecota winery in Napa, and now Jackson has acquired Murphy-Goode Winery, a leading producer in Sonoma's Alexander Valley.

The sale price was not disclosed with the announcement on June 22, but the deal includes the current wine inventory, the Murphy-Goode brand and a second value label, Tin Roof. No vineyards or winery facilities, however, are included in the sale. Instead, the Murphy family will lease the winery to Jackson for the next two years. The Murphys retain ownership of about 300 acres in the Alexander and Russian River valleys, and are in the process of finalizing an agreement to continue selling grapes to Jackson Family Wines, according to Jackson spokesman George Rose. David Ready Jr. will continue as the winemaker and Lorri Emmerich will stay on as general manager. No major changes are planned for the brand, Rose said.

"The purchase of Murphy-Goode is a strong fit for the Jackson Family portfolio," Jackson said in a statement. "We all started in this business about the same time, and we plan to continue their historic family legacy of passion and commitment to quality."

While Rose said Murphy-Goode "fits our high-end niche quite nicely," Murphy-Goode would seem to be in competition with another Jackson-owned winery, Stonestreet, also in the Alexander Valley. Both brands produce Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot at similar price points.

Murphy-Goode was founded in 1985 as a partnership among Tim Murphy, Dale Goode and Dave Ready. Fumé Blanc and Chardonnay were the focus early on, but red wines began dominating production in recent years, and the winery currently makes 140,000 cases a year. The partners decided to sell for a number of reasons, according to Ready.

"At our size you're sort of stuck in the middle," said Ready, who is 60. "You need to be a little bit like a big winery but you also have to retain the family-owned quality image. It's a tough spot with all the competition and consolidation of wholesalers."

After Tim Murphy died in 2001 and with Dale Goode retired and confined to a wheelchair, Ready said the families realized it was time for a change. "It was just becoming a bigger and bigger challenge," Ready said.

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