technology & business
Vineyard Owners in Sonoma County Kerana Todorov
E&J Gallo are the largest grape producers by planted acreage in Sonoma County, each owning hundreds of acres in multiple appellations, according to a Wine Business Monthly survey. Jackson Family Wines (JFW) owns about 4,300 acres while E&J Gallo and affiliated businesses own more than 3,600 planted vineyard acres. E&J Gallo, the biggest family-owned winery in the world, owns another 3,920 acres that are not planted. Founders Ernest and Julio Gallo in the 1930s started a program known as the 50/50 give-back plan, according to a company representative. Under the plan, the company sets aside an acre for wildlife habitat for every acre planted to vineyards. The practice continues today. “Gallo has been a longtime investor in Sonoma County vineyards,” said Mario Zepponi of Zepponi and Co. “In fact, not many people realize that Gallo owns a significant amount of production capacity and vineyard acreage in the Dry Creek and Alexander Valley regions,” Zepponi said in an email. Zepponi and Co. in Santa Rosa represented Napa Valley’s iconic Stagecoach Vineyards in March 2017 when then-owner Dr. Jan Krupp sold the 600-acre vineyard to E&J Gallo. J A C K S O N FA M I LY W I N E S A N D
76 July 2018 WBM
Mergers, Acquisitions and Consolidation Glenn Proctor, partner at The Ciatti Company, said consolidation has
resulted in quite a few large companies with high owned acreage in Sonoma County. Businesses in other industries consolidate to be competitive, he said. “I do not think it is much different in our industry. If you look at Napa, you can see some of the same trends.” Consolidation will continue as long as it makes financial sense, Proctor said, with a caveat. “We have seen trends in our industry where owning assets and vineyards for corporations has been desired and other times where corporations have shied away from owning those assets. For the near term it appears we may see more vineyards purchased by corporations, which is not necessarily a bad thing.” A question is whether children will follow in their parents’ footsteps, Proctor said, and when they don’t, family vineyards and wineries are sold to larger entities—especially given some of the high values placed on these assets in today’s market. As a result, there may be more large- and small-sized vineyards and fewer middle-sized vineyards.