Napa wine group acquires historic Seghesio winery

  • Seghesio Family Vineyards tasting room manager Tony Scuillo, right, talks with Andrew and Melissa Thomas during their visit to the Healdsburg winery on Wednesday, June 1, 2011.

Future leadership of the Healdsburg winery, founded in 1895, and estate planning were part of the issues that led to the sale, said CEO Pete Seghesio, who will be staying on as wine-grape grower.

The family analyzed the work and expense it would take to continue for the next 20 years and agreed to get out of the business, especially at time when a small percentage of the 11 co-owners wanted to leave the business, he said.

"Any time you're a large older Italian family you run into these problems, and especially when the business has been successful and the value is at such a level, it's very challenging to get it to the next generation," Seghesio said.

Financial terms were not disclosed by the Seghesio family or the Crimson Wine Group, the Napa company that purchased the winery, and which is owned by Leucadia National Corp., a New York holding company.

"We were approached by Crimson earlier in the spring, and we were just really taken aback by the offer and the interest," he said.

An industry source estimated the sale to be worth between $90 million and $120 million.

Seghesio traces its roots back to the late 19th century, when Edoardo Seghesio planted his first zinfandel vineyard in the Alexander Valley. Since then, four generations of the Seghesio family have tended more than 400 acres of vineyards in the Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River valleys.

Historic photos line the walls of the rustic tasting room at the Seghesio Family Winery, with pictures of younger generations of winemakers alongside a portrait of Edoardo Seghesio wearing a long mustache and a top hat.

Pete Seghesio described Erle Martin, chief executive officer of Crimson Wine Group, as a close friend he has known for a decade who could carry on the Seghesio tradition.

Martin said Crimson has been hunting for a good acquisition, and Seghesio fit well with its focus on luxury, estate-based wines.

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