Boisset buys Sonoma's De Loach

Boisset Sonoma De Loach California merger purchase News Wine News
  • Thursday 20 November 2003

Boisset, France’s third largest wine company, has bought California’s De Loach Vineyards for around US$17m.

The property consists of 11.5ha in the Sonoma appellation of Russian River. Boisset has also signed contracts to buy grapes from other De Loach vineyards in Sonoma that are not part of the package.

Family owned-and-operated since its launch nearly 30 years ago, De Loach filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May 2003, citing debts of US$30 million and a net loss in 2002 of US$2.6 million. Several DeLoach employees – including marketing director Michael De Loach, son of founders Cecil and Christine, and winemaker Dan Cedarquist - will continue as part of the new team.

While Boisset already produces wine in California by contract (for example with Lyeth Estate and Joliesse Vineyards), the well-respected De Loach represents its first outright purchase.

‘The property has the exact terroir we have been looking for - particularly for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but also Zinfandel. We plan to apply Burgundy fermentation techniques, like open wooden vats, and concentrate on making 12-14 premium and ultra-premium wines,’ said Jean-Charles Boisset, president of Boisset America, who is currently visiting US distributors and merchants with Michael De Loach.

This represents approximately half of De Loach’s existing range. Likewise, Jean-Charles Boisset says he plans to bring both organic and biodynamic processes to De Loach.

It has been a busy year for Boisset which has 38 brands, accounting for 3.75m cases from properties in France -Le Domaine de la Vougeraie (Burgundy), Le Château de Pierreux (Beaujolais), Le Château la Croix Martelle (Minervois – La Livinière), and joint ventures in Uruguay, Chile and Canadian powerhouse Vincor, with which it is building a US$20m winery.

In October, Boisset bought Marie Brizard, just after privatising itself by buying back shares traded on the Euronext stock exchange. Jean-Charles Boisset estimates that the company’s sales will quadruple in 2004.

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