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Geyser Peak Winery’s owner closing Healdsburg tasting room

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Geyser Peak Winery will close its Healdsburg tasting room as its parent company looks to sell the brand and its sister labels, a move representing a mighty fall for one of Sonoma County’s legendary wine labels that fell out of favor with wine consumers.

The winery is owned by Australian-based Accolade Wines, which is seeking a buyer for its California brands as well as a firm to import its foreign brands. The Carlyle Group, a global private-equity investor group based in Washington, D.C., bought Accolade Wines last year for $770 million and has been making structural changes to the company.

“Accolade Wines global has decided to look at different routes to market,” spokeswoman Stephanie Hahn said in a statement. “We do not know if someone will want to take over the brand and current facility or how that will play out. In the short term, we will be closing our tasting room as we work through the process.”

Hahn did not respond to follow-up questions on the timing of the tasting room closure located at its property off Westside Road in the Dry Creek Valley. The company also owns Atlas Peak and XYZin labels.

The demise of Geyser Peak’s tasting room marks a sad chapter in the storied history of the winery that was founded in 1880 as California’s 29th bonded winery, with a hillside perch across from the Geyser Peak and its thermal steam clouds.

The winery has had multiple owners over the years, including the storied late businessman Henry Trione of Santa Rosa, who bought it from Stroh Brewing Co. in 1982 and helped enhance the brand. He sold half of the business to the Penfolds Wine Group in 1989, which sent over Australian winemaker Daryl Groom, whose 1990 red blend won six gold medals at major wine competitions. In 1993, the winery was the ninth-largest in revenue in Sonoma County.

Accolade acquired Geyser Peak in 2012 from Ascentia Wine Estates to help spur its growth in the United States. A year later, Francis Ford Coppola Winery bought Geyser Peak and 32 acres of vineyards at its Geyserville property from Ascentia.

The winery’s flameout has been the result of a declining market share for lower- priced wines, a category in which Geyser Peak historically has been part of, said Rob McMillan, executive vice president of Silicon Valley Bank’s wine division.

“It’s just in desperate need of care and feeding,” McMillan said of the Healdsburg winery.

You can reach Staff Writer Bill Swindell at 707-521-5223.

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