A Canadian investment group has beaten off competition from several wineries to secure 670 acres of prime vineyard land in Washington State for more than US$16m.
Red Mountain land, Washington State. Photo: Washington State Wine Commission
Aquilini Investment Group, owner of the Vancouver Canucks NHL team, fought off dozens of other bidders, including Napa Valley’s Duckhorn Vineyards, to secure all 31 lots of unplanted land in Saturday’s five-hour auction in Pasco, Washington.
The parcels of 20-40 acres each in the sought-after Red Mountain AVA were put up for sale by the Kennewick Irrigation District (KID), which is working to supply water to the land from the Yakima River.
It marks Aquilini’s first foray into wine and is one of the strongest signs yet of Washington’s rising prominence as a wine-producing area in the US.
Auctioneer Scott Musser said the 35 bidders included Duckhorn, local producers Kiona Vineyards and Winery, Upchurch Vineyard and Hedges Family Estate, as well as other prominent companies.
‘Our bidding method sells the land in the combination that brings the highest price,’ he said. ‘We could have had one buyer, 31 buyers or anything in between. In this case, the highest bid was for all the land.’
The deal will cost Aquilini more than $16.3m: $8.3m for the land, nearly $0.5m in auctioneer fees, plus $7.6m towards the $20m-plus KID irrigation project.
Company founder and patriarch Luigi Aquilini told the Great Northwest Wine website that the company is ‘in the process of determining the best grape varieties to grow in the region’ and intends to plant as soon as possible.
As well as the Vancouver Canucks, Aquilini Investment Group owns commercial and residential property, hotels and golf courses, and is fast becoming one of North America’s leading growers of blueberries and cranberries.
Last week, Napa Valley’s Duckhorn confirmed to decanter.com that it will release its first Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon next year, and is also keen to purchase vineyard land there.
Written by Richard Woodard