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Coppola buys Geyser Peak

Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Sonoma announced last Monday that it has purchased Geyser Peak Winery in Geyserville.

Francis Ford Coppola Winery said it had bought the production facility and 13ha of estate vineyards in order to meet its growing production demands.

‘Last year we found ourselves in a pinch with space,’ director of winemaking Corey Beck said. ‘With the lack of new winery development in Sonoma County and new vineyard plantings… the fruit has to go somewhere.’

The Geyser Peak facility, founded in 1880, had been owned by investment group EPR properties since 2008.

The Geyser Peak brand and label changed hands in 2012 and is now owned by the Australia-based company Accolade Wines.

Accolade will continue to lease space in the winery from Coppola and will maintain ownership of the small-production Geyser Peak label. For the time being, Accolade will purchase the fruit from the estate’s vineyard as well.

Geyser Peak has capacity to crush up to 10,000 tons of fruit and bottle one million cases each year, but more so than volume (according to Wine Business Monthly, Francis Ford Coppola Winery sold 1.25m cases in 2012), Beck is excited by the winery’s many small fermentation vessels, which will allow him to ‘keep blocks separate longer’ and grow the reserve and single vineyard-designate programs.

The winery also has one of only four special permits — distributed in Sonoma County in the 1970s to attract tourism — that allows for a restaurant and hotel to be built on the premises.

Coppola inherited one of the other three permits when it purchased Chateau Souverain in 2005 and has taken full advantage, entertaining upwards of 200,000 guests a year (starting in 2011) with a swimming pool, four bocce (bowls) courts, a full-service restaurant and a band shell.

‘Knowing these permits aren’t handed out anymore, it’s a good thing to have,’ Beck said. ‘It will allow us to increase our footprint in Sonoma County.’

Written by Courtney Humiston in Sonoma

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