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Big players dominate Sonoma County vineyard holdings

  • Acres of vineyards surround the E&J Gallo wine production facility in the Dry Creek Valley near Healdsburg. Gallo is one of the top five vineyard owners in Sonoma County, and is neck and neck with Jackson Family Wines for most acreage, each with about 3,200 acres. (Christopher Chung / PD)

For two centuries, farmers have worked the vineyards in Sonoma County, blending soil, sunshine, science and sweat to produce grapes that are used to create some of the world's top wines.

Today, there are 1,500 farmers who grow the county's signature crop, selling their fruit to 550 local wineries or crushing it themselves to transform the juice into wines that are sold around the globe.

Search our interactive map of Sonoma County vineyards here

Sonoma County Vineyards: Who Are The Players?

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But increasingly, the county's largest wineries, together with a small group of big growers, are taking control of the vineyards and the $400 million crop they yield each fall.

The top five vineyard owners in Sonoma County control nearly a fifth of the county's grape supply, according to an analysis by The Press Democrat of county property tax records. The vineyards and winery assets on that land have an assessed value of more than a half-billion dollars, although the actual market value is likely much higher.

The two largest players, perennial rivals Jackson Family Wines and E&J Gallo, are locked in a virtual tie. Each owns about 3,200 acres, with Jackson Family Wines ahead by a mere 61 acres, including properties owned by affiliated companies, executives and family members. The vineyards, buildings and equipment on Jackson Family Wines' land are valued at $251 million on county tax rolls, and Gallo's is valued at $105 million, according to an analysis of county records.

Silverado Premium Properties, a Napa vineyard investment firm, is in third place, with nearly 2,400 acres of vineyards valued at $80 million, according to an analysis of county records.

The Sangiacomo family, a longtime grape-growing family in Sonoma, and Ferrari-Carano winery west of Healdsburg round out the top five. The two own a combined 2,300 acres of planted vineyards with an assessed value of $138 million.

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