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Historic Napa winery Stony Hill sold to Heitz Cellar owner

The prized Stony Hill Vineyard has become the latest Napa Valley winery purchased by Gaylon Lawrence Jr and Master Sommelier Carlton McCoy Jr.

Lawrence Jr and McCoy Jr MS announced their purchase of Stony Hill Vineyard on 23 December. Financial details were not disclosed.

The move marks a fresh chapter for Stony Hill, one of the legendary names of Napa Valley winemaking and which saw its first harvest in 1952.

It is the latest of several deals involving businessman Gaylon Lawrence. He and McCoy Jr acquired Burgess Cellars in September.

McCoy is president and CEO of Heitz Cellar, which Lawrence acquired in 2018 – following that up in 2019 by acquiring Haynes Vineyard in Napa’s Coombsville AVA.

At Stony Hill, the new owners have appointed Jaimee Motley as winemaker.

‘Stony Hill Vineyard has held a special place in my heart since my initial visit to the winery in 2011 after the harvest,’ said Motley, who has been assistant winemaker at Pax Wine Cellars and also launched wines under her own name.

Jaimee Motley, Stony Hill

Jaimee Motley, Stony Hill’s new winemaker. Credit: Stony Hill Vineyard.

‘The estate feels as if there are ten different clos within the property – and each of those parcels has the ability to present us a looking glass into the history of California terroir and the future of transparent winegrowing,’ she said.

‘I look forward to maintaining a deep reverence with the land, honouring the past, and embracing the future of Stony Hill.’

Laurie Taboulet, who was formerly national sales manager at Larkmead Vineyards, has been appointed Stony Hill’s estate director.

Laurie Taboulet, Stony Hill

Laurie Taboulet, Stony Hill’s new estate director. Credit: Stony Hill Vineyard.

Stony Hill was founded by Fred and Eleanor McCrea, who bought the property in 1943 as a weekend getaway.

They initially planted 2.4 hectares of vines (six acres), including Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Blanc, and the first wines quickly found favour with wine lovers in the 1950s. Gewürztraminer, Sémillon, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah were later added.

Fred McCrea developed the winemaking, while Eleanor handled the business side. After Fred’s death in 1977, his assistant Michael Chelini took on the winemaking for the subsequent 40 years.

During that time, in 1991, the McCreas’ son Peter and daughter-in-law, Willinda, assumed day-to-day management of the winery.

In 2011, their daughter Sarah joined the business, although in 2018 a majority stake in Stony Hill was sold to Ted Hall and family – owners of Long Meadow Ranch.


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