MacRostie Winery and Vineyards is under new ownership after its founder, Steve MacRostie, decided to retire and sell his 24-year-old company.

Lion Nathan Wine, a division of Australia's largest food and beverage company Lion Nathan National Foods, acquired the winery. The purchase price was not disclosed.

Lion Nathan Wine owns 14 Australian and New Zealand wine brands, and one North American winery in Oregon.

MacRostie Winery and Vineyards, which currently produces 20,000 cases a year, is the company's first California winery.

The winery is located in a leased facility on the outskirts of Sonoma, where it has built a strong reputation for its chardonnay and pinot noir wines. It does not own any vineyards.

MacRostie, 64, said retirement has been on his mind for a few years.

"I've been thinking about it for a long time," he said. "My children aren't interested in taking it over."

As part of the deal, MacRostie will remain with the winery for three years to consult on wine production.

"I'm too young to really retire," he said. "This will bring me back to my roots."

MacRostie began his career as a winemaker at Hacienda Winery in 1974.

The number of winery owners looking to retire is climbing, said Joe Ciatti, a winery broker and partner at Zepponi & Co. in San Rafael.

"There are a ton of people who grew up in the industry, or entered it at middle age, and now they are looking to retire from it," Ciatti said.

MacRostie said the troubled wine economy did not make his retirement and winery sale any easier.

"We met with a lot of cautious buyers," he said. "It's not as easy to sell a business in current times."

Last spring, he met with Steve Myers, general manager for Lion Nathan USA, the American division of the Australian company's wine unit. It had recently purchased its first North American winery, Argyle in Oregon's Willamette Valley, and was also interested in purchasing a California winery.

"They are looking for good solid acquisitions in the wine industry," Ciatti said. "So this is a good marriage for both sides."