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Vintage Wine Estates buys Hopland winery

Vintage Wine Estates, the fast-growing Santa Rosa company with a collection of wineries in Sonoma and Napa counties, announced an agreement Wednesday to expand into Mendocino County by acquiring Weibel Winery in Hopland.

The deal includes one of the largest wine production facilities in Mendocino County and 24 acres of cabernet, zinfandel and petit syrah vineyards. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Vintage Wine Estates, which produces about 600,000 cases annually, will rename the property Ray's Station and plans to crush 400,000 cases of wine at the facility this year.

"It allows us to expand our crush business and make more wine," said Pat Roney, president of Vintage Wine Estates. "And in Mendocino County, there are no use permits required, so we can continue expanding to unlimited production up there. ... As we continue to grow, we could increase to up to a million cases, if that's what we wanted."

Vintage Wine Estates, with 145 employees, has been scooping up wine properties over the past two years. It owns Girard Winery, Cosentino Winery, Windsor Sonoma Winery, Sonoma Coast Vineyards, Windsor Vineyards, Cartlidge & Browne, Grove Street Winery, Ray's Station, La Tarasque and Flirt.

The company bought the Ray's Station brand from Kendall-Jackson about eight months ago. Currently sourced from grapes on the North Coast, the brand will be converted to a Mendocino County appellation, Roney said.

The Weibel Winery in Hopland originally started as the McDowell Valley Winery. It later became a custom-crush facility for Associated Vintage Group and then the home for Chateau St. Michelle's sparkling wine program, before it was purchased by Weibel. Weibel will continue to crush grapes at the winery as a custom crush client of Vintage Wine Estates, the company said.

Santa Rosa-based Zepponi & Co., a mergers and acquisitions firm, represented Weibel in the deal.

"Weibel realized a unique selling opportunity when the custom-crush facility became a desirable commodity, due to the increased demand for grape and bulk wine processing," Joe Ciatti, a principal at Zepponi & Company, said in a statement.


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