Filed under: Estates
Last month I wrote about the auction of the Kirkland Ranch Winery in Napa Valley. It looks like the Western-themed winery will be on the market a little bit longer. It failed to attract a successful bidder during a sealed-bid auction which had a a minimum bid of $22 million. International Wine Associates, which is a financial adviser to owner Kirkland Knightsbridge LLC, says that is "less than half of the previous value" of the property. The winery has been on the market for a while but due to the credit crunch has been unable to find a buyer.
There were a few bids but none over the reserve prices of $22 million for the 69-acre winery property or $26 million for the winery plus an additional 186 acres. It will now go back on the traditional market and continue to seek a buyer but they may need to reduce the price again in order to get it sold.
A month ago I wrote about trouble for Napa Valley's Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts. Since then it's gotten a lot worse. The Sacramento Bee reports that a federal bankruptcy court judge has blocked attempts by the center to a $2 million emergency loan so that it can stay open while it tries to reorganize $80 million in debts. The decision means that Copia which closed at the start of December will stay closed and programs will probably be canceled. In an email to the Bee, , chief executive Garry McGuire said that "the organization will wind down and be dissolved eventually." The non-profit has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from creditors.
Copia's tax-exempt bonds were insured in case the non-profit ever went bankrupt and the bond insurer, ACA Financial Guaranty Corp. of New York is interested in beginning foreclosure proceedings. They have accused Copia insiders of trying to enrich themselves at the expense of bondholders with a bankruptcy filing and proposed $28 million building sale but that deal is unlikely to go through now.
Filed under: Wine
Custom wine facility Crushpad has a unique answer to the financial crisis, Bailout Wine. The wine is a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon which will sell for $39 per bottle. But what makes this wine with the bear and bull label so unique is that for every 100-point drop in the Dow Jones from the date of purchase to the projected bottling date of August 14 2009, Crushpad will knock another $2 off the bottle. If the Dow rebounds the $39 price stands. Only 500 cases of Bailout will be produced but the company could still take a hit if the Dow tumbles. For example if you bought when the Dow was at 8,800 and then on August 14, 2009 it closes at 7,300 (let's hope not) you would pay just $9 a bottle and get your $30 back. The wine will be shipped after it is bottled in Summer 2009.
Filed under: Wine
Filed under: Events
We know truffles are luxurious and tasty but using them effectively is a bit of an art. By the end of Truffle camp at the La Toque restaurant at The Westin Verasa, Napa you'll exactly what to do with the prized fungi. Ken Frank, executive chef and owner of La Toque restaurant will teach eight students at a time over the course of three days. It begins on a Sunday evening with a reception and dinner prepared by Chef Frank. Monday morning there is a hands-on cooking class followed by lunch and a trip to to Long Meadow Ranch to tour the farm and taste produce. The next day there is another class and lunch followed by a trip to a local winery for a private tour and barrel tasting. Dinner is at La Toque where a truffle-centered menu will be paired with different wines. It winds up on Wednesday morning with a a farewell breakfast of truffle omelets and the bestowing of a truffle "goodie bag" to create your own truffle specialties at home.
Ken Frank's Truffle Camp at La Toque is $2,900 per student based on single occupancy or $4,800 per couple based on double occupancy and is held January 11-14, 2009 and January 18-21, 2009. The price includes three night's accommodations at The Westin Verasa, Napa in a deluxe one-bedroom suite, the five meals mentioned above, two hands on cooking classes with Chef Frank, the field trips to the farm and winery, goodie bag, recipes, wines served during the event and gratuities. The only thing that's missing? A truffle hunt to source the musty treasures.
Filed under: Wine
If you are in the market for a winery, we've got one for you and you could get it for half price. The Kirkland Ranch Winery in Napa Valley is being put up for sealed-bid auction, with a minimum bid of $22 million. International Wine Associates, which is a financial adviser to owner Kirkland Knightsbridge LLC, says that is "less than half of the previous value" of the property. The winery has been on the market for a while but due to the credit crunch has been unable to find a buyer.
It's been a long road for this producer of Sangiovese, Pinot Grigio, Syrah and other wines. The winery filed Chapter 11 a couple of years ago to avoid a foreclosure auction and emerged from bankruptcy protection last year. The Kirkland family built the 57,000-square-foot winery ten years ago and it can process 200,000 gallons of wine annually and has the capability to produce more than twice that. The cellar has storage for 3,000 oak barrels. The winery can crush up to 2500 tons and handle 257,000 gallons in refrigerated stainless steel tanks.
The winery is located on a historic 2500+ acre cattle ranch that was originally part of General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo's huge Suscol Rancho. The Kirklands purchased the former Lynch Ranch and the neighboring Sheehy Ranch in 1978 to create the Kirkland Ranch and raised cattle on the ranch until 1999. In 1985, a test vineyard was planted and the family eventually expanded their vineyards to 150 gently sloping acres of vineyards, while continuing to raise cattle.
The winery itself is a lodge-style building which is supported by 67 giant Oregon Red cedars that run along a wide porch surrounding three sides of the building. The lower floor has a retail room where guests can shop the exclusive selection of reserve wines. The second floor is home to a ttasting room opens to a large porch and the three story tasting room is supported by the largest of the red cedar trunks. A viewing hall, adjacent to the tasting room, overlooks all areas of the cellar and provides a safe location for visitors to view all phases of the wine making process. The winery has hosted retail sales and public tastings by appointment and hosted events at banquet and meeting facilities.
The winery is being auctioned through Braun Auctioneers and the Beverly Group Inc. Potential bidders will have until December 2 to conduct due diligence before purchase and sealed bids are due by noon on December 3.
Filed under: Wine
I rather expected this news to come after hearing this summer that the Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts in California's Napa Valley was in financial trouble. It seems that the Copia will be selling off its main campus in Napa Valley and then leasing back part of the space. The good news is that the center isn't going completely belly up. It plans to expand its education programs and open satellite campuses with wine bars and stores. They'll need the help, the organization has a debt of $78 million, and prospective buyers are already dealing with a 50 percent write-down in value as reported in Wines & Vines.
The city of Napa might consider using the site as a civic center. Certainly the Copia building always did seem a bit large for its audience and was only stuffed with visitors during certain key festivals and events. Robert and Margrit Mondavi planned the center as a hub for Napa's expansive wine tourism industry but it never quite took off, its education-based lure never as strong as that of a hedonistic jaunt along from winery to winery in Napa Valleys verdant countryside. The most popular parts of Copia, the Julia's Kitchen restaurant and Cornucopia gift store will stay in Napa, either in the building or elsewhere and there are also potential plans for a Copia Napa wine bar.
Copia's feature may lie in San Francisco where a large wine bar and teaching kitchen could attract many more potential visitors. They've also expanded the Copia website to make it more interesting to all those interested in wine, not just potential visitors to the Copia center.
Hopefully the business or organization that ends up purchasing the space will have a tourism or wine focus. Several business including the Oxbow Public Market, the new Westin Hotel and a proposed Ritz Carlton chose their sites based on proximity to Copia and the plan to create a epicurean tourism destination. Copia is hoping to sell off the property by the end of the year.
UPDATE: Copia has temporarily closed but plans to open up again on December 1.
Filed under: Wine
Tucked away in Napa Valley, Ehlers Estates Vineyard produces fantastic Bordeaux inspired wines. Opened in 1886 it was held by various families over the years. The current owners, Jean & Sylviane Leducq, decided to take their wonderful winemaking tradition and positively impact others by donating the winery wholesale to their foundation. The Leducq Foundation in turn supports cardiovascular research worldwide. (And you thought drinking it yourself was the only way to reap the wine's heart-healthy effects...now you've got purchase power too)! Their current releases include: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Verdot and Sauvignon Blanc ranging in price from $25 to $95 per bottle.
Gallery: Ehlers Estate
Filed under: Wine
You can pick up M by Michael Mondavi this fall for a steep $199. In a recent interview with Steve Heimoff, Mondavi explained how he reached this price. He explained that his team bought a bunch of top cult wines and did a blind tasting asking themselves how much they would pay for each wine. Because their wine came out strong they prices it below some of the super-pricey cult wines and above some of the ones it showed better than. Of course the costs of managing the 15-acre vineyard were also a factor.
Heimoff's interview also reveals that Mondavi has learned his lesson about rapid expansion. He says that at his Folio Wine import and production company they have just two rules, only work with those they respect and want to spend time with, and only sell wines they would like to serve to family and friends.
The Flora Springs Winery in St. Helena, California has one of the most intriguing tasting rooms I've seen in a while. The Room was designed by Joe Miroglio of Miroglio architecture and the stucco stripes are meant to evoke the look of the caves where Flora Springs has been aging their red wines year after year for 30 years. Inside there is a 32-foot, steel and oak tasting bar. There are also private tasting rooms and upper and lower patios terraced by rippling covered roofs. There are tastings at the Popcorn Bar as well as the Temptastings in the Tasting Cave which include food pairings matched to small production wines. Tasting prices range from $15 to $50 for the single vineyard pairing.
Don't expect a strenuous adventure -- it is geared toward the 'enthusiastic beginner' as they put it so don't worry if you aren't Lance Armstrong. Vacation...wine tasting...exercise all in one? Perfect.
Tours are available from March 1st to November 30th.
Filed under: Wine
Last month I mentioned that Chateau Montelena, one of Napa Valley's best-known wineries, might be for sale. Now the San Francisco Chronicle reveals the new owner. Michel Reybier, owner of Bordeaux chateau Cos d'Estournel, will soon own the Calistoga property pending approval from the federal government. There has been no definitive word on a price but rumor has it that the figure is in the $100 to $110 million range. The potential deal comes at a time when attention is being focused toward the winery anyway because of the release of the movie "Bottle Shock," which centers on the events surrounding the moment when the 1973 Montelena Chardonnay outscored top white Burgundies in the 1976 Judgment of Paris tasting.
Filed under: Wine
Phifer Pavitt Wines has become known for its annual Pick-Up Party when customers arrive to collect their purchases and enjoy food, friends and music by local musicians. Customers enjoy adding their favorite 'date night' experience on the chalkboards that adorn the winery's barn wall. Now website customers can add their date night experiences online at the Date Night Wine website.
The grapes are sourced from Arthur Spencer's Lakespring Vineyard in Pope Valley, the winemaker is Ted Osborne. The 2005 Phifer Pavitt 'Date Night' Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) is a release of just 300 cases. The wine spent 17 months in barrel (65% new French) before being bottled. It sells for $75 a bottle. The 2006 Date Night Cabernet Sauvignon will be released around October/November 2008.
Filed under: Wine
More and more wineries are offering hands-on experiences that range anywhere from an engaged winery tour to week-long immersions. Judd's Hill in Napa Valley is now offering Barrel Blending Day Camp, a chance to spend a couple hours in a winemaker's shoes. The winemakers help you taste and choose from four barrel samples (two Cabernet Sauvignons, one Merlot, one Cabernet Franc---all Napa Valley appellation) and then talk you through the blending and hand-bottling processes right down to dipping the tops of the bottles in wax. The whole thing takes around two hours and you leave with your wine on that day.
The camp is available by advance reservation and can be open to one to 12 people per session. The Barrel Blending Day Camp at Judd's Hill has several options priced by how much wine you want to take home: $175 per person enables you to take home 3 finished bottles of wine; $325 per person results in 6 bottles; $600 is a 12-bottle adventure.