Möet Hennessy Buys Napa’s Joseph Phelps Vineyards

Another Napa wine icon is changing hands. Wine Spectator has learned that LVMH Moët Hennessy, the global wine and fashion titan, has signed a deal to purchase Joseph Phelps Vineyards. The agreement includes the brand, winery and inventory, and several hundred acres of vines in Napa Valley and Sonoma County. The purchase price was not disclosed.

“Moët Hennessy plans to build on the admirable legacy established by Joseph Phelps, his children and grandchildren, maintaining the shared values of quality, craftsmanship, entrepreneurship and focus on sustainability,” CEO Philippe Schaus said in a statement.

Joseph Phelps was one of Napa’s pioneers, part of a generation that moved to the valley in the 1960s and ’70s and revitalized its wine scene. Phelps made his career as a building contractor in Colorado, then established an office in San Francisco. His company won a bid to build Souverain Winery in Sonoma and Phelps started spending time in wine country and made Cabernet and Zinfandel in the basement of his home using Napa grapes. Contemplating a career change, he purchased a 600-acre cattle ranch in Spring Valley on Napa’s eastern side in 1973, near Heitz Cellar, and started planting vineyards and building a winery.

Phelps released his first wines—a Riesling and a Cabernet Sauvignon—that same year. Then, in 1974, he produced Insignia, a blend of classic Bordeaux varieties that is now recognized as one of Napa’s signature red wines. It was a radical approach to Napa Cabernet at the time—a proprietary label in which the vintage and winemaker determined the final blend. Insignia helped establish the winery as a leading Cabernet producer, with Phelps’ and winemaker Craig Williams’ 2002 bottling named Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Year in 2005.

After Joseph’s death in 2015, his son Bill and his siblings took over managing the company.

As of 2021, LVMH was the most valuable company in Europe, a global corporation chaired by Bernard Arnault with dozens of top brands in fashion, spirits and wine, including Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Fendi, Bulgari and Tiffany & Co. Moët Hennessy, its wine and spirits division, is anchored by Hennessy Cognac and Moët & Chandon Champagne. Over recent decades, the company has steadily expanded its wine holdings, adding brands like Champagne’s Krug, Bordeaux’s Château Cheval-Blanc, Burgundy’s Clos des Lambrays, Spain’s Bodega Numanthia and New Zealand’s Cloudy Bay. In Napa Valley, it owns Newton Vineyard and a majority stake in Colgin Cellars.

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Source : https://www.winespectator.com/articles/moet-hennessy-buys-napas-joseph-phelps-vineyards

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