Cleavage Creek bounces back13th August, 2013 by Gabriel Savage
A Chinese group has bought Cleavage Creek winery in Napa Valley and is believed to have plans for reviving the dormant brand in the Macau casino market.
Cleavage Creek, which used to donate 10% of sales to breast cancer research, closed in 2011 following the death of its owner Robert H “Budge” Brown in an aeroplane crash.
Last month the brand, its 16,000-gallon winery and 19 acres of vineyard – with permission to plant a further 16 acres – was bought for $4.95 million by Hong Kong-based company FCC North American Investment. The new owner has not confirmed whether the brand’s charitable origins will be maintained.
Although the firm has no background in the wine industry, its ability to guarantee distribution, reported to be based on connections with Macao’s thriving casino business, helped FCC North American Investment fight off competition from the growing number of Chinese groups on the hunt for California wine brands and estates.
While a US property is on the wish list of China’s largest wine brand, Great Wall, Napa Valley’s profile among Chinese consumers received a further boost from the 2012 launch of a Cabernet Sauvignon brand belonging to the country’s retired basketball star Yao Ming.
According to the North Bay Business Journal, FFC North American Investment is now seeking approval of a new Californian label, Calla Lily Estate & Vineyard, which will also be exported to China. In addition, the company is believed to be on the hunt for a second winery, with a particular interest in Pinot Noir from Sonoma’s Russian River Valley.
Scott Bergman of Bergman Euro-National, who managed to deal on behalf of FCC North American Investment, told the paper: “The Chinese market is realising that (Cabernet Sauvignon) isn’t the end-all”, as he noted: “They are realising that Russian River Pinot Noir is highly appealing to the new Chinese market.”