The Taub family, owners of Palm Bay International, one of the nation’s leading wine importers, is expanding its presence in California. The family’s Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon brand Heritance has purchased Saracina Vineyards in Mendocino from John Fetzer and his wife, Patty Rock. The deal, which closed in early October, includes a winery, 250 acres of land with 100 acres planted to vines, along with the Saracina brand and its second label Atrea. The sale price was not disclosed.
The deal gives the Taub family an established winery and a foothold in Mendocino. They plan to move production of their Heritance, Au Contraire and Angry Bunch brands to Saracina’s winemaking facility. Winemaker Alex MacGregor will continue to make the Saracina and Atrea wines.
Marc Taub, CEO of Taub Family Companies, which includes Palm Bay International and Taub Family Selections, had been looking for a home for his growing roster of California brands. “With the acquisition of the Saracina Ranch, I am proud to establish a foundation for my family in a region that I believe has vineyards of historic proportions," Taub told Wine Spectator. "The estate will become the home base for the production and cellaring of our California wines, and we will develop the property over the long term for strategic growth and expansion.”
Fetzer and Rock will no longer be involved in the winery, but they have retained part of the Saracina property, including a residence. The eldest of 11 siblings, Fetzer launched Saracina in 2001—nearly a decade after his family sold Fetzer Vineyards to spirits company Brown-Forman (Fetzer and its affiliated brands are now owned by Chile’s Concha y Toro). The couple built a tasting room and wine cave on the 600-acre former Sundial Ranch near the town of Hopland, and tapped MacGregor and consultant David Ramey to make the wines.
Saracina makes wine from a variety of grapes including Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc from its sustainably farmed estate vineyards and purchased grapes. The winery produces around 7,500 cases of wine annually.
Once one of the foremost dynasties in California wine, the Fetzer family has been divesting its wine holdings in recent years. In 2017, the family sold its 80-acre ranch in Redwood Valley, the site of the original Fetzer winery, to cannabis distributor Flow Kana. The Saracina sale leaves third-generation vintners Jake and Ben Fetzer as the only family members with their own wine label, Masut, in the Eagle Peak appellation of Mendocino.
Marc Taub’s father, David, who passed away in 2012, launched Palm Bay in 1977, importing Italian wine. The family now imports and produces nearly 90 wine and spirits brands from 17 countries around the world, with a focus on Italy. In 2014, Marc turned to California, launching Pinot Noir brand Au Contraire in Sonoma. They later added Heritance, which was founded by wine-industry veterans Bernard Portet and Don Chase.
The Taub family doesn’t plan to make any change to the Saracina wines but they will add new projects down the road. “We definitely want to take advantage of what [Fetzer and Rock] have been doing here,” said Bethany Burke, senior vice president of corporate communications at Taub Family Companies. “Marc is looking at this as a long-term opportunity to lay down roots for his family.”
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