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Bill Foley buys Santa Barbara marketing, ecommerce company

Bill Foley, the winery owner who amassed 16 wineries in 16 years, has added a wine marketing company to the mix.

Foley spent about $500,000 to acquire 70 percent of Touring & Tasting Marketing & Media, a Santa Barbara company that markets for wineries online, publishes a magazine, and owns an ecommerce site and collection of online videos known as the Wine Country Video Channel.

The acquisition was driven by the technology behind both companies' websites and ecommerce platforms, Foley said.

"The technology that's being developed at Touring and Tasting is compatible with our Foley Food and Wine Society technology," Foley said. "With our platform we can support the Touring & Tasting winery customers, and we'll be able to help them with emailing events, concierge services, all the things we're going to do with the Food and Wine Society."

Foley's society website shares similar technology with Touring & Tasting's website, Foley said. While the ecommerce platform is currently a small part of Touring & Tasting, Foley plans to expand it substantially, he said. The investment also will enable Touring & Tasting to convert clients to a digital marketing presence, Foley said.

Touring & Tasting has about 300 clients, who were generally open to the opportunity to partner with Foley because they liked the idea of having coordinated events. That surprised Foley, he said.

"I thought there would be some jealousy, and people would be worried that I'd have access," he said.

Instead, Foley's offer to acquire a controlling stake in the business came as a pleasant surprise, said Dan Fox, general manager of Touring & Tasting.

"We think it's about as synergistic a partnership as we could have drawn up," Fox said.

Wine country visitors cannot yet make reservations online through the FFW website or Touring and Tasting, but plans are in the works to add that function to both websites.


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