Wine Spectator has learned that the PlumpJack Group, which includes Napa’s PlumpJack Winery and CADE Estate Winery, has purchased Ladera Vineyard’s 82-acre estate on Howell Mountain from the Stotesbery family. The sale includes the winery, 74 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and 3 acres of Sauvignon Blanc, but does not include the brand or inventory. The Stotesberys plan to continue the Ladera brand.
Neither side would disclose the price, but PlumpJack general manager John Conover told Wine Spectator they paid “market price,” which he defined as being roughly $300,000 per planted ace. That would exceed $23 million before the winery was included.
“We’re always interested in looking at properties and projects,” said Conover. “All the things about this property made sense for us. The acquisition gives us an opportunity to expand the footprint of CADE.”
Ladera’s estate sits just on the other side of the hill from CADE, and Conover says it has the same soil makeup as the CADE vineyards. “There aren’t enough adjectives to describe the quality of this property, from the gravity-fed, fieldstone winery, to the vineyards,” said Conover, adding that the keys to success in Napa Valley are vertical integration and self-sufficiency. “We’re an estate-driven organization, and this fits into our narrative.”
CADE Estate Winery was established in 2005 by the PlumpJack Group’s principals—Conover, Gavin Newsom, who is currently California’s lieutenant governor, and Gordon Getty—as a mountain-grown Cabernet estate to complement the valley-floor wines of PlumpJack Winery. The PlumpJack portfolio also includes the Napa Valley winery Odette Estate, as well as restaurants, nightclubs, bars, retail stores, catering services, and hotels in California and Nevada. CADE sits at 1,800 feet, and comprises 54 acres, 21 planted, which are farmed organically.
“This expansion of CADE Estate Winery speaks to the passion of the PlumpJack Group,” Newsom said in a statement. “We are proud to continue the legacy of this extraordinary Howell Mountain estate.”
Anne and Pat Stotesbery founded Ladera Vineyards in 1998, and purchased the Howell Mountain property in 2000 from Francis DeWavrin and Françoise DeWavrin-Woltner, who established Chateau Woltner after selling Château La Mission Haut-Brion in Bordeaux. The Stotesberys replanted the Chardonnay vines with Cabernet Sauvignon and restored the winery, which was built in 1886 by French immigrants and was being used for storage. The winery was the 13th bonded winery in California and one of the valley’s earliest gravity-flow facilities.
Pat Stotesbery told Wine Spectator that he had been putting out informal feelers to sell the estate when PlumpJack came along. “Our children have decided to pursue careers outside of wine, and we aren’t getting any younger,” joked Stotesbery. He’s not planning on retiring, but maintaining the large property was becoming increasingly challenging, so they intended to scale down.
In addition to the Howell Mountain wines, the family also produces Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from their Pillow Road Vineyard estate in Russian River Valley. “We feel like we’ve accomplished a lot here, from planting the vineyards, restoring the winery and growing a brand to be in all 50 states,” said Stotesbery. “We’re happy that the property ends up in hands of someone who I know will appreciate what we’ve done and will take good care of it.”
Ladera Vineyards will continue to host tours and tastings at the winery through the end of the year, and will produce their 2016 vintage on-site. This year’s grapes will go to CADE, but as part of the deal, Ladera will continue to source some grapes from the vineyards on a short-term lease. Conover noted that the first day of harvest started just in the nick of time, as the deal closed yesterday, allowing them to take advantage of what appears to be a great vintage.