Gaia Vineyard, formerly known as Ashley’s Vineyard when it was owned by Fess Parker Winery, has been bought by William “Bill” Foley II, after being owned for just two years by Santa Monica real estate developer John Zahoudanis, who purchased it in 2005 for his Demetria Estates winery.
The 213-acre vineyard, one of the biggest and best-known in the Santa Rita Hills appellation, has long had a reputation for extremely low yields, the result of local winds.
Foley is owner of Foley Estates Winery, just down the road from Gaia/Ashley’s, and Lincourt Vineyards, in nearby Solvang. He said he bought the vineyard, for $12.5 million, to supply Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes to Lincourt. Foley’s partner in the deal, Kobrand Wines and Spirits, owns 25% of the vineyard.
Foley hopes to manage the low yield issue, partly by installing wind screens, especially at the upper elevations. “If we can get two tons an acre, great. If it’s 2-1/2, ever better.” He is renaming the Pinot Noir section Lindsay’s Vineyard and the Chardonnay portion Courtney’s Vineyard, after his daughters.
The wines will be made by Foley Estates’ winemaker, Alan Phillips.
Foley vowed to keep supplying grapes to local wineries, including Longoria, Brewer-Clifton and Melville.
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