Philippe Schaus, chairman and chief executive of the Moët Hennessy division of LVMH, called Joseph Phelps Vineyards ‘an iconic name and an iconic winery’.
Joseph Phelps founded his eponymous winery on a 260ha former cattle ranch in Napa Valley in 1973.
He turned it into one of California’s most prominent producers, famed for its flagship Insignia – a Bordeaux-style blend – and its pioneering use of Rhône varieties, which kick-started the ‘Rhône Rangers’ movement in the Golden State.
The founder’s son, Bill Phelps, joined the business in 1998 and serves as executive chairman, while third-generation family members are also part of the executive management team.
Joseph Phelps owns 172ha of vineyards in Napa Valley on nine estate plots, spread across St Helena, Rutherford, Oakville, Stags Leap District, Oak Knoll District, South Napa and Carneros. It also has 40ha over two vineyards on the western Sonoma Coast.
‘It’s important for us that we are acquiring a family business with a legacy and heritage,’ said Schaus. ‘It’s super important that we keep that heritage.’
Moët Hennessy is best known for its Champagne portfolio, which includes Moët & Chandon, Krug, Veuve Clicquot, Dom Pérignon, Ruinart and Armand de Brignac, along with spirits such as Hennessy, Ardbeg and Glenmorangie.
However, it also has a formidable portfolio of still wines, featuring the likes of Château Cheval Blanc, Clos des Lambrays, Château Galoupet, Whispering Angel, Cloudy Bay and sweet wine Château d’Yquem.
LVMH’s aim is to serve the manifold ‘moments of consumption’, from aperitifs and Champagne receptions to fine dining, bars, clubs and cocktails.
Shaus said Moët Hennessy was missing ‘a strong red wine’, so it swooped upon Joseph Phelps Vineyards.
‘LVMH values and embraces all of our brilliant and dedicated team members and all those who have spent decades helping to make Joseph Phelps Vineyards what it is today,’ said the Phelps family in a statement confirming the sale.
‘The added resources and support that LVMH brings will help carry the principles we all hold dear – innovation, sustainability, and the pursuit of excellence – forward to the next 50 years and beyond.’