Wine

Napa Chardonnay sensation Frank Family sold for $315 million to wine giant Treasury – San Francisco Chronicle

Summary

Australian wine corporation Treasury Wine Estates has paid $315 million for Frank Family Vineyards, an upscale Napa Valley winery known for its rich, buttery Chardonnay.

“We were growing so fast and we almost couldn’t catch up with the demand for the product,” said Rich Frank, who owned the winery with his wife, Leslie. “To keep up with what we built here, we need to make a lot of capital expenditures.”

It’s the latest Napa Valley jewel in Treasury’s crown. The …….

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Australian wine corporation Treasury Wine Estates has paid $315 million for Frank Family Vineyards, an upscale Napa Valley winery known for its rich, buttery Chardonnay.

“We were growing so fast and we almost couldn’t catch up with the demand for the product,” said Rich Frank, who owned the winery with his wife, Leslie. “To keep up with what we built here, we need to make a lot of capital expenditures.”

It’s the latest Napa Valley jewel in Treasury’s crown. The publicly traded company already owns several of the valley’s most famous and historic estates: Beringer, Beaulieu, Sterling and Stag’s Leap Winery. Within that lineup, Frank Family “fills (a) key portfolio gap in luxury Chardonnay,” according to Treasury. Frank Family‚Äôs Chardonnay has a wide fan base and is a familiar presence in wine shops and restaurants around the country.

Founded in 1992, Frank Family currently produces more than 150,000 cases of wine per year, far more than its small winery in Calistoga can accommodate. As it’s grown production in recent years, it has had to spread out its winemaking across four or five different facilities at any given time, Frank said. It got to the point where they needed a larger wine company with more resources to take over.

The deal comes with some highly desirable Napa real estate for Treasury: the historic Frank Family tasting room in Calistoga, another vineyard in eastern Napa, and the Benjamin Ranch vineyard in Rutherford. The 85-acre Benjamin Ranch has a particularly large potential for return for Treasury, since Frank Family has been approved for permits to been to build a substantial new winery there. Documents filed with Napa County show that the Franks seek to construct a 79,000-square-foot winemaking facility that could potentially produce over 2 million bottles per year, a 7,700-square-foot tasting room and a parking lot with 94 spaces.

Rich and Leslie Frank have sold their winery but will retain ownership of two Napa Valley vineyards.

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Neighbors have appealed the county’s approval of the permit, and it will still be months before construction can begin. Still, “I fully expect Treasury to keep trying to get the permit,” said Frank. Such a large winery in Rutherford, near some of Napa’s most popular tourist attractions like Honig, Caymus and Conn Creek, would represent a big economic opportunity for Treasury.

The Franks hold on to two other vineyards they own: Winston Hill Vineyard in Rutherford, where the couple lives, and Lewis Vineyard in Napa’s Carneros region. They’ll continue to sell grapes from those sites to Frank Family under Treasury’s ownership. Both Leslie and Rich Frank have agreed to consult for Treasury for at least two years.

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Source: https://www.sfchronicle.com/food/wine/article/Napa-Chardonnay-sensation-Frank-Family-sold-for-16630114.php