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California winemaker buys back Sonoma wineries

Phil Hurst has teamed up with fellow vintner Ken Wilson to buy back two Sonoma wineries he listed publicly in 2013. The pair are due to celebrate with the opening of a new tasting room this week.

Sonoma wineries Truett Hurst and VML are back in the hands of their original owner after Hurst declared that listing them as public companies  in 2013 was “a mistake”.

It appears to be something of a trend in California as last month Patz n Hall co-founder James Hall bought back his wine venture from Ste. Michelle, eight years on from selling to the Washington wine giant.

Ste. Michelle is said to be offloading its California wineries in order to focus on its business in Washington.

Ken Wilson, who owns more than a dozen boutique Sonoma wineries, enabled Hurst to buy back the inventory and brand intellectual property for the two wineries from Truett-Hurst Inc, though the winemaking pair were unable to reacquire the 24-acre winery property with tasting room.

“We couldn’t afford the whole package, with the property,” Hurst has said.

Instead, the wine property and its grounds has been sold to Aesthete Wines LLC, for US$8.1 million, with Hurst and Wilson planning to open a new tasting room in Healdsburg this week.

Winemaking and production facilities for Truett Hurst and VML, which produce 15,000-17,000 cases of wine per year, will be shared with Wilson Artisan Wineries. Hurst wants to increase production to 20,000 annual cases, which is still significantly lower than the wine brand’s peak when it made 300,000 cases per year.

Truett-Hurst Inc. is being wound down after experiencing a rollercoaster ride as a publicly listed company, following an initial US$14 million raised in an independently backed public offering. It was blighted by complex legal cases, wildfires and the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.



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