French winegrowers take root in Napa Valley
NAPA VALLEY, Calif. (KRON) – The world-famous Bay Area wine country is proving to be more than a vacation destination for those looking to sip chardonnay and cabernet.
It is also considered by prestigious French wine growers as a good place to put down roots.
A young winemaker just moved from France a few months ago to run what was once the Flora Springs estate just outside of Saint Helena.
The winery, first established in 1885, was recently purchased by prestigious winegrowers from the Bordeaux region in France and renamed Cathiard Family Estate.
The 26-year-old says her bosses chose to expand there because they want to build on their success by producing the cabernet that Napa Valley is famous for.
“I am really excited that we have a great terroir, old vines incredible nature around us incredible primary forest, I think we are going to make some very exceptional wines from me, that’s exactly what I love, “said Justine Labbe.
“The Napa Valley is at the top of the wine industry these days, it’s right there with Bordeaux and Burgundy and places in Spain etc. and so when you are looking to establish yourself, it doesn’t isn’t a bad place, ”said Rob McMillian. .
Rob McMillian works for Silicon Valley Bank. He says he’s helped negotiate a growing number of deals between French winemakers and West Coast wineries.
“It’s over, the central coast of California, Sonoma, Napa, Oregon and even a little bit in Washington, there are buyers and sellers right now, it’s a good market,” McMillian said.
Those behind these deals say that in some cases the sellers are the descendants of winemakers who wish to exit the business, but for buyers, one of the reasons to locate here is to help grow their business in the United States.
“It’s by far the biggest wine market in the world, 400 million cases, so buying something in the United States, buying a French company here as market access in a way that they wouldn’t have. not otherwise, ”said Robert Nicholson.
Another draw is not the one we’re used to hearing about here in the Bay Area.
According to people involved in some of these deals over land prices in France’s most famous wine regions, Napa Valley is seen as a bargain.
“There is a big difference between the value of Napa Valley Cabernet lands versus Bordeaux Cabernet lands and it would be $ 500,000 here in Napa Valley on average and certainly over $ 1 million an acre. in Bordeaux, ”said Nicholson.
“We’re going to bring a French twist to American-style wine,” said Labbe.
The new general manager of this winery is focusing more on growing the same type of grapes in a drier climate than she is used to than on the cost of the soil in which they are planted.