Vintage Wine Estates announced today that the company has acquired Santa Barbara, Calif.–based Qupé from Terroir Life. The deal includes the brand and inventory. Founder and winemaker Bob Lindquist will stay on as consulting winemaker. The price of the purchase was not disclosed.
“Qupé has a great history of producing Rhône-style wines that resonates with consumers,” said Pat Roney, CEO for Vintage Wine Estates. “We are looking forward to honoring that legacy.”
Searching for capital and a long-term financial partner, Lindquist sold the brand in 2013 to Charles Banks and Terroir. Lindquist told Wine Spectator that the partnership with Terroir quickly deteriorated after Banks’ legal woes began. A former financial advisor to professional athletes who made a big splash when he got into the wine business and began acquiring small and medium-size producers in California, South Africa and New Zealand, Banks was convicted in 2017 of defrauding one of his former clients, NBA star Tim Duncan. Currently serving a four-year sentence in federal prison, Banks left his position at Terroir, and the company has been trying to rebuild.
“Banks seemed like the ideal partner, at the time: He had an upstart company with cool wineries and seemingly lots of resources,” said Lindquist. “Once Banks was no longer in the picture, the mojo seemed to be gone, and Terroir began looking for a good fit for us.”
Lindquist founded Qupé in 1982, making his first wines for the project during a short stint at Zaca Mesa Winery, before breaking out on his own the following year. As production grew, he focused on Rhône varieties, but also produced Chardonnay due to its popularity at the time. Today, Qupé produces around 30,000 cases annually.
In 1989, Lindquist and friend Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat partnered to build a winery under a lease agreement with the prized Bien Nacido Vineyards in Santa Maria Valley, which became a key source for some of Qupé’s wines. Lindquist was among the first to advocate for Syrah and other Rhône varieties in California, and has been a leader in the movement ever since.
Lindquist says that with each sale, the goal has been to keep the winemaking consistent with what he’s been doing for 36 years, including the vineyard sources. “I’m happy to move on to a company that has clout and resources,” said Lindquist. “I can’t make all the wine and sell it too.”
Santa Rosa–based Vintage continues to expand its winery holdings, now with more than 30 brands in its portfolio representing roughly 2 million cases of annual production. Earlier this year, it purchased Washington’s Tamarack Cellars.
Roney noted that the acquisition of Qupé is part of a larger overall strategy to focus on the Central Coast. “That’s another reason why it made a lot of sense for us, as we begin to put a group of additional winery acquisitions together.” Along with Qupé, recent Central Coast acquisitions include Clay House and Layer Cake.
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