Two years after selling a 70 percent stake in Brewer-Clifton to Chicago-based investor and sommelier Ken Fredrickson, co-founder Greg Brewer confirmed on Thursday that the Santa Barbara County-based winery has been bought in their entirety by Jackson Family Wines. The sale includes Brewer-Clifton’s 60 acres of estate vineyards.
Brewer, who started the winery in 1996 with Steve Clifton and grew it to be one of the most prominent Pinot Noir and Chardonnay producers from the Sta. Rita Hills, will remain at the helm of both B-C (as it’s colloquially known) and his Diatom brand, which is included in the sale. (Clifton was bought out of the business soon after the sale to Fredrickson.)
Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but Brewer said the sale had been in the works for a while, largely due to Fredrickson’s close relationships with JFW executives.
“It’s a huge deal for me and for the appellation,” Brewer said, noting that while JFW owns Cambria and Byron in the nearby Santa Maria Valley, B-C and Diatom will be the only brands that the company owns in the Sta. Rita Hills. “It is big for the appellation to have that endorsement from someone like them. They’re really committing and planting a flag with us. It’s going to be a neat chapter, for sure, to see what happens next.”
‘I’ve Never Been More Committed’
Brewer-Clifton makes about 10,000 cases of wine annually from its three estate vineyards: Machado, 3-D and Hapgood. Diatom sources from those and other vineyards to produce about 750 cases a year. Brewer also consults with Hilliard Bruce and the brand new Spear Winery—two estates also in the Sta. Rita Hills between Buellton and Lompoc—but said that the future of those partnerships still need to be worked out.
A former French teacher at UC-Santa Barbara who started the brand two decades ago with $10,000, Brewer seems mostly relieved by the news. “Running a small business like this is so sketchy, with cash flow and every little thing that comes up,” Brewer said. “Now there is a whole team around me. I can honestly say I’ve never been more committed to this.”