When Sam and Vicki Sebastiani sold Viansa, the Italian-style winery they built on a knoll at the southern end of the Sonoma Valley, they?d hoped to put a painful chapter in their lives behind them.
It was the summer of 2005, and they were in the process of getting a divorce. The plan to turn the winery over to their children had been torn apart by sibling rivalries.
And the winery was becoming a financial drain.
So when a relatively unknown company called 360 Global offered $31 million for the winery, they took it, hoping to move on with their lives.
It hasn?t happened.
Sam Sebastiani, who is now remarried and lives part time in Nebraska, said recently that the financial failings of the pennystock company that purchased his winery have caused him endless heartache.
Time after time, when the company failed to pay its bills, he was in the line of fire of angry creditors.
The largest is GE Capital, which claims it is owed $1.6 million for leases on winery equipment that 360 Global failed to pay.
GE Capital, one of the largest financial services companies in the world, refused at the time of the sale to transfer the liability for the leases from the Sebastianis to 360 Global.
Under a compromise, 360 Global agreed to pay the leases and the Sebastianis remained the guarantors of the leases.