By the end of this week, Sonoma Valley?s scenic Viansa winery is likely to have a new owner.
The fate of the popular tourist destination founded by Sam and Vicki Sebastiani is scheduled to be decided at an auction Thursday in bankruptcy court in Reno.
But unlike the Legacy Estates bankruptcy last year, which triggered a bidding war that led to a $97 million sale, a similar outcome appears unlikely.
Only one outside bidder has come forward to express an interest in purchasing the winery from the bankrupt 360 Global Wine Co.
Santa Monica-based Woodbridge Capital Partners LLC has made an opening bid of $20 million for Viansa. The offer is less than half the $40.5 million opening bid made by the company?s largest creditor, offshore hedge fund Laurus Master Fund, according to Marty Brill, 360 Global?s Los Angeles bankruptcy attorney.
While the difference between those two figures may make it seem Laurus is assured to become the winery?s new owner, that?s not necessarily the case, Brill said.
Laurus may have no interest in owning the winery and may take an amount less than its debt to cut its losses, Brill said.
?If somebody waves $35 million in front of Laurus, I think they?d be hard-pressed to say no,? Brill said.
360 Global purchased Viansa Winery and Italian Marketplace in 2005 from the family of founders Sam and Vicki Sebastiani for $31 million, all of which was borrowed.
The young company started by a Connecticut investment banker with no experience in the wine industry struggled under the weight of its debts from the beginning. Its claimed strategy of assembling a portfolio of small wineries and improving the way they are marketed fell apart when most of its wine interests turned out to be hype and its only real wine partnership, a joint marketing venture with Napa?s Kirkland Ranch
The bankruptcy case is being handled in Reno because 360 Global was incorporated there, reanimated from the wreckage of a defunct technology company.
Brill blamed 360 Global?s troubles on high debt and ?mismanagement? by the company?s former management.
The investment banker who started 360 Global, Jake Shapiro, was removed as the company?s chief executive officer and replaced by John Bryan.
While it would be unusual for another bidder to step forward this late in the game, it is not unheard of, said Bruce Beesley, 360 Global?s Nevada bankruptcy attorney.
It would also be helpful for the creditors, most of whom are expected to get a mere 10 cents on the dollar in the deal.
A second smaller class of creditors is expected to get 25 cents on the dollar.
The unsecured creditors of the winery are not happy about that and have challenged that portion of the reorganization plan. They worry that Laurus will acquire control of Viansa for $40 million, and turn around and sell it for more, making money off the deal while they get stiffed.
They have asked the judge to establish a way for them to receive more money if Laurus makes a profit on a sale of Viansa within five years. Brill calls the request a ?long shot.?
?Unfortunately, this is what the winery is worth,? Brill said. ?Anything they get is better than nothing.?
Largest North Coast Wildfires
2017-Tubbs fire- approximately 36,432 acres in Sonoma and Napa Counties. 92% contained as of Oct. 19.
2017-Nuns Fire- approximately 54 thousand acres- 34,398 in Sonoma County and 20,025 in Napa county. 80% contained as of Oct. 19.
2017-Atlas Fire- approximately 51,624 acres in Napa and Sonoma Counties. 85% contained as of Oct. 19.
2017-Redwood Fire- approximately 36,523 acres in Mendocino County. 85% contained as of Oct. 19.
2017-Pocket Fire-approximately 14,225 acres in Sonoma County. 63% contained as of Oct. 19.
2017-Sulphur Fire-approximately 2,207 acres in Lake County. 96% contained as of Oct. 19.
(TOTAL North Bay fires as of Oct. 18.- 195,434 acres)
2015- Valley Fire burnt 76,067 acres in Lake County. A total of 1,955 structures were destroyed.
2012- North Pass Fire- approximately 41,983 acres in Mendocino County.
2004- Rumsey fire- 39,138 acres in Napa and Yolo counties.
1996- Fork fire, the largest fire on record, burned through approximately 83,057 acres in Lake County. Much of the devastation was focused in the Mendocino National Forest.
1981- Atlas Peak Fire- approximately 23 thousand acres in Napa County.
1981- Cow Mountain Fire- approximately 25,534 acres in Lake and Mendocino counties.
1964- Hanly Fire- approximately 52,700 acres in Sonoma and Napa Counties. 84 homes, 24 summer cabins and countless farm buildings destroyed including the historic Tubbs Mansion.
1964- Nunns Canyon- approximately 7,000 acres in Sonoma County.
-Source: CAL Fire