Change is inevitable, even if we may prefer that things stay the same.
So it is in the world of wine, as family wineries become increasingly rare while large, multi-brand wine companies compete for market share.
Before 2021 morphed into 2022, we saw Bruce Cohn sell his Trestle Glen Vineyard in the Sonoma County town of Glen Ellen, and Delicato Family Wines acquire another famous Sonoma County property, Francis Ford Coppola Winery.
Such deals are typically accompanied by media releases with phrases such as “diversifying our portfolio,” which kind of take the “romance” out of wine.
That’s the way it was with the Coppola sale. The Cohn deal involved a father-and-son duo because Cohn specifically wanted to sell to a private owner or family, hoping to keep the idea of family vineyard and winery ownership alive in the valley.
There aren’t too many family-owned estates left in California’s North Coast wine country, which makes last year’s commemoration of 50 harvests by the Stare family at Dry Creek Vineyard particularly impressive.
But time marches on, business models change, and the challenges associated with operating a successful winery increase. That’s why we’re seeing more corporate ownership — because it requires ever deeper pockets to own a winery today, especially in California.
Francis Ford Coppola reportedly still holds an equity stake in his former winery, and also became a member of the new owners’ board. It’s something welcomed by the Indelicato brothers, who said that the optimism that Coppola projects is infectious.
What does all this mean for wine lovers?
Well, as long as there are passionate people tending the vineyards and making the wine, it really should make little difference whether a winery is family owned or corporate owned. As long as quality in the bottle remains high, we all win.
And here at Vinesse, our wine finders and tasting panel provide two more layers of “quality protection,” helping to ensure that only the finest wines are shared with our clients — no matter how much things may change in wine country.