Michael Mondavi Acquires Napa Acreage

Michael Mondavi Acquires Napa Acreage

Michael Mondavi and family recently announced that they are acquiring the Francis Mahoney Estate Winery in southern Napa Valley, formerly Carneros Creek Winery, from Francis and Kathleen Mahoney.  In a separate transaction, the family has purchased the 270-acre Aetna Springs Vineyard in Pope Valley, within the Napa Valley appellation.

The Carneros Creek sale includes approximately 25 acres of land around the winery including various vineyards, but does not include the bulk of Mahoney’s 160 acres of vineyards in Carneros.  The Mahoneys will continue to produce  Mahoney Vineyards and Fleur de California wines at the Mondavi-owned winery.  Mondavi will produce his I’M, Oberon, Bocce and Hangtime wines at the winery as well, but says he doesn’t expect to produce more than 45,000 cases of his own brand there.

Michael Mondavi and his father Robert founded Robert Mondavi Winery in 1966. Michael Mondavi left two years ago and Constellation Brands subsequently bought the winery.

After leaving Robert Mondavi Winery in 2004, Michael Mondavi founded Folio Wine Company with his wife Isabel, son Rob and daughter Dina. Folio produces wines, and imports and markets Danzante, Luce Della Vite, Frescobaldi and Ornellaia from Italy.

Francis Mahoney was a pioneer in producing Pinot Noir in Carneros. He founded Carneros Creek in 1972, and the winery grew to more than 30,000 cases.

In 1998, investment banker Bill Hambrecht bought an interest in the winery and it was expanded and updated. In mid-2001, Mahoney limited his involvement with the winery in order to manage his vineyard holdings and adopt a less rigorous work schedule.

Hambrecht ran into financial difficulties and sold the Carneros Creek brand in 2004, although he and Mahoney kept the winery property itself and Mahoney kept his vineyard land.

Mondavi’s other acquisition, the 270-acre Aetna Springs Vineyard,  has 110 acres planted in vines and Michael Mondavi says another 25 to 30 acres may be suitable for planting.

A number of Napa Valley wineries buy grapes from the vineyard. Aetna Springs, like the rest of Pope Valley, is part of the Napa Valley AVA, though it is geographically not part of Napa Valley itself and has a distinctive climate.

Aetna Springs Vineyard gained notoriety recently when former owner Paul Maroon had four black bears killed because the bears were damaging his vineyard. Though legal, the incident was widely condemned by other growers and wineries.

Mondavi vows to farm the land sustainably and that likely doesn’t involve killing bears.


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Published on August 22, 2006

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