Owners Bart and Daphne Araujo sold their 23-year old Napa Valley winery to the Artemis Group, parent company of Château Latour, for an undisclosed sum. Included in the sale to the group and its majority owners, the Pinault family, are the 162-acre property, which includes the famous Eisele Vineyard, winery buildings, inventory and the Araujo brand name.
Bart Araujo says he didn’t seek the deal, but he was contacted out of the blue by Frédéric Engerer, Latour’s CEO. “He indicated Araujo was his favorite Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, and he was interested in taking a position in Napa Valley. It all came as a great shock to me.”
Araujo says he and Engerer share the same values, starting with respect for the land. “It was scary how congruent we were on all the major issues of running a winery operation,” Araujo says.
“We have mixed feelings about this, as you can imagine,” Araujo says of the end of his tenure of Araujo Estate. “It’s been our baby, our home for all these years. But it’s time to move on. The decision’s been made, and we’ve passed the baton.”
The Araujos plan to immediately begin “a mini-version of what we did 23 years ago: a new winery.” They are looking at vineyard properties “throughout Napa Valley” and although none has been selected, Araujo says, “I expect we’ll be making wine this  vintage.” A name for the new project remains to be selected. “All the names I like are already taken!” Araujo quips. Françoise Peschon, Araujo’s current director of winemaking, who is likely to stay on, also will make the wines for the new Araujo project. Consulting winemaker Michel Rolland’s status was unclear at press time.