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Private equity business buys majority stake in Far Niente Wine Estates

Private equity business GI Partners has added to its wine investments by buying a majority stake in Napa Valley’s Far Niente Wine Estates.

The company, owner of a majority share in Napa-based Duckhorn Wine Company since 2007, bought the stake from Far Niente owners Beth Nickel, Erik Nickel, Dirk Hampson and Larry Maguire, all of whom remain shareholders.

The deal covers the Far Niente winery in Oakville, plus sister wineries Dolce, Nickel & Nickel, EnRoute and Bella Union, with the current sales, marketing and production team remaining in post.

‘With shared values and consistent vision, our new partnership clears the way for continued growth and improvement in our group of luxury wineries that we’ve been building since the re-establishment of Far Niente in 1979’ said Hampson, director of winemaking and CEO.

Founded in 1885, Far Niente was left abandoned for 60 years after Prohibition, then acquired in 1979 by Gil and Beth Nickel, who began making Chardonnay, crushing the first vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon in 1982.

Sister wineries include late harvest specialist Dolce, single vineyard Cabernet winery Nickel & Nickel, Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and Chardonnay producer EnRoute and Rutherford-based Bella Union, also a maker of Napa Valley Cabernet. Together the wineries produce about 75,000 cases a year.

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