Jon Sebastiani is making a return to the wine industry and a familiar place he knows well: Viansa Sonoma.
The Sonoma entrepreneur is heading back to the winery that he once managed under his family’s control in a new deal announced Tuesday with its current owner, Santa Rosa-based Vintage Wine Estates, which bought the Sonoma Valley facility in 2013.
In Tuesday’s transaction, Sebastiani’s Sonoma Brands purchased a minority stake in Vintage Wine Estates, becoming the fourth-largest shareholder in the wine company. Sonoma Brands also will assume management of Viansa and Sebastiani’s brother, Christopher Sebastiani, will serve as general manager.
“It’s a fabulous story. He (Jon) was 23 when he was president,” said Pat Roney, chief executive officer of Vintage Wine Estates. “He’s passionate about it.”
Viansa was founded by Jon’s parents, Sam and Vicki Sebastiani, in 1989. He served as president when the winery was sold to an investment group in 2005. He has since gone on to great success in the food business, founding Krave Pure Foods Inc., a gourmet jerky company, that he sold off three years ago for a reported $200 million to $300 million. He acquired the Sonoma Stompers baseball team last year.
The winery, with its views of the Sonoma Valley, is noted for its hospitality. Visitors can expect enhanced customer experience over the next year with upgrades planned by Sebastiani, Roney said.
“I continue to believe Viansa is one of the most unique properties in all of Sonoma and Napa counties, and I intend to place innovation at the heart of our strategy. You will see innovation within our wine assortment, innovation in wine-related beverages (think wine-infused kombucha), innovation in food (both fresh and packaged) and innovation in Wine Country hospitality,” Sebastiani said in a statement.