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Vintage Wine Estates buys Calistoga winery

  • Pat Roney, president of Vintage Wine Estates of Santa Rosa, who just acquired Clos Pegase Winery in Calistoga, Wednesday Aug. 21, 2013, stands in the Close Pegase wine cave. (KENT PORTER/ PD)

Vintage Wine Estates bought Clos Pegase Winery on Tuesday, adding the Calistoga property known for art and hospitality to its expanding collection of wineries.

The acquisition gives the fast-growing Santa Rosa company eight brands in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Clos Pegase Winery

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“We bought Clos Pegase because we think it is an iconic winery and because they make great wines,” said Pat Roney, president of Vintage Wine Estates.

The sale includes 90 acres of estate-owned vineyards at Clos Pegase and 360 acres of leased vineyards in the Carneros district.

Jan Shrem, who founded Clos Pegase in 1984, envisioned a bacchanalian center for wine, art and architecture. Architect Michael Graves designed the postmodern winery after an architectural competition hosted by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Shrem, 83, will keep the art, which includes a 17th century Italian fountain and sculpture by Henry Moore. The new owners will continue the winery's artistic tradition by adding new pieces of art, Roney said.

“We will continue to focus on high-end wine and quality art,” he said.

Clos Pegase produces 25,000 cases of wine each year at its facility, which is permitted for 80,000 cases. Roney expects to double the current production.

“We are going to invest in new vineyard development with a target of 50 to 60,000 cases,” he said.

The winery's 15 employees will stay on, adding to Vintage Wine Estates's 200 workers. The Santa Rosa company produces 700,000 cases of wine annually.

Clos Pegase will be the company's fourth-largest winery by production and fifth-largest by sales volume.

Analysts said Vintage Wine Estates is becoming known for revitalizing brands.

“The acquisition makes a lot of sense,” said Mario Zepponi, co-founder of Zepponi & Company, a winery merger and acquisition company. “They pride themselves on acquiring wineries that have the best years behind them and repositioning the brand to regain past glory.”

He said that Vintage Wine Estates, which bought Weibel Winery in Hopland and renamed it Ray's Station last July, is becoming an active player in the winery acquisition business.

“They have been very active and I expect them to continue that activity,” Zepponi said.

The company also owns Girard Winery, Windsor Vineyards, Cosentino Winery, Sonoma Coast Vineyards, Windsor Sonoma Vineyards and Cartlidge & Browne Winery.

With properties at both ends of the Napa Valley, Vintage Wine Estates will likely look to Oregon, Washington or overseas for its next acquisition, Roney said.

“This is probably our last in the Napa Valley,” he said. “We are going to put a greater focus on wholesale sales.”

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