By Jessica Yadegaran
Thursday, August 16th, 2007 at 1:47 pm in Uncategorized.
Weeks after Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars sold to big wine companies for $185 million, Central Coast wine pioneer Brooks Firestone announced the sale of his family’s Firestone Vineyard to the Foley Wine Group this afternoon for an undisclosed price.
Before you get your knickers in a twist, let me say that this sale is a bit different. The Firestones and the Foleys have been friends and neighbors for a decade, and the operation is staying local. Bill Foley acquired the J. Carey Cellars property from the Firestone family in 1997, which became Lincourt Vineyards. They have history.
The acquisition includes the Firestone Vineyard and Prosperity Wines brands, along with the Santa Ynez Valley winery and 480 acres of land, inclusive of 380 vineyard acres. The Firestone family will retain ownership of Curtis Winery (my fave Syrah!), Firestone Walker Brewing Company and the new family winery in Paso Robles, where I visited Andrew Firestone back in May.
I got the Firestones’ PR rep Christopher Weir on the phone and he told me the deal had been in the works for about three months. The reason they’re retaining their smaller, newer properties is because they “want to continue doing the things they’ve been doing, just less of it,” Christopher told me. It’s sort of a right person at the right time thing.
Here’s a quote from Brooks Firestone, from the press release: “While this was a tough and emotional decision for us, we are energized by the opportunity to more closely focus on our other winemaking and brewing enterprises on the Central Coast.”
There you have it. Firestone Vineyard will be folded into Foley’s small portfolio of estate wineries, with further and hopeful acquisitions in Sonoma, Napa, Oregon and Washington. No significant changes are anticipated in the operations, staffing or distribution of Firestone Vineyard wines.
If you don’t know the history, Firestone Vineyard was founded in 1972 as Santa Barbara County’s first estate winery. William Foley established his Lincourt Vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley in 1996 and opened Foley Estates Winery in the nearby Santa Rita Hills in 2005.