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Russian River Vineyards set to emerge from bankruptcy

A federal judge has approved a plan by Russian River Vineyards, the financially troubled Forestville winery, to emerge from bankruptcy, the company announced Friday.

"We made it. It was a long, hard road," said Chris O'Neill, the winery's managing partner. "We just look forward to bigger and better things as we move forward, and to put this behind us and to get back to where we know we can be."

The reorganization plan, which has been accepted by creditors, was approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Alan Jarolovsky on Dec. 7.

Outside of mortgages, the winery owes about $250,000 to $300,000. The company plans to pay it all back over the next five years, if not earlier, O'Neill said. The company has renegotiated its mortgage and bank loans and achieved lower interest rates, he said.

Russian River Vineyards produces chardonnay and pinot noir and is home to Corks Restaurant. It filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August 2011, seeking protection from creditors while it attempted to restructure its debt. The company fought an attempt last year by a federal trustee to convert the case to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which would have forced the winery and restaurant to close and liquidated its assets.

The company, which employs 25 to 30 people, has shown a steady increase in business over the past 15 months, O'Neill said. Annual revenues are expected to reach $1.3 million, compared to $600,000 three years ago, he said.

"Everything's in place now to allow us to operate and be financially stable in the long term," O'Neill said.


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