E.&J. Gallo Buys Napa Boutique Winery Massican

It’s been a busy week for E.&J. Gallo and for white wine lovers tracking the news. Following the announcement of its acquisition of Chardonnay powerhouse Rombauer on Aug. 29, Gallo has purchased Napa-based white wine specialist Massican. The deal includes the Massican brand and its inventory of wines. Massican does not own vineyards or a winery. Neither side disclosed a purchase price, but founder and winemaker Dan Petroski will stay on exclusively for at least the next five years.

“This is not a buyout,” Petroski told Wine Spectator of the deal, which he describes as a partnership. He says it will give him the support he needs to continue and grow Massican, and he plans to stay for many years. “This is the last job I’m ever going to have in wine.”

Petroski founded Massican in 2009. He was working as winemaker at Larkmead Vineyards, where he focused on estate Cabernet Sauvignons, but he wanted to create his own, small label to explore his love of Italian grapes. He has family ties to Italy and spent his first years in the wine industry in Sicilian cellars. When he left Larkmead in 2021, he focused full-time on Massican, building a loyal mailing-list clientele.

Petroski first grabbed attention with fresh, floral and saline-styled wines from California-grown Italian grapes like Ribolla Gialla, Tocai Fruilano and Fahlangina. He expanded into Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Massican has twice landed in Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list, for both the Annia bottling (a blend of Ribolla Gialla, Tocai Friulano and Chardonnay) as well as his Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc. The wines are definitely a different style and vibe than Rombauer.

“Dan makes great wine,” Gallo brand manager John Irwin told Wine Spectator. “That’s where it has to start, but credibility matters, stewardship matters, and all wine drinkers, from the collector to the novice, want an authentic experience. These are not typical wines, especially for California; they’re low in alcohol, high in acid, salty, fresh. I think that’s because they’re an extension of Dan—there’s a humanity and vision to his wines.”

Petroski says he met Joseph C. Gallo, vice president and general manager of the Gallo Luxury Group, about a year ago. Gallo told Petroski he was rooting for him and asked what he could do to help. “I’ve been doing this by myself for 14 years,” said Petroski of his response. “I want to make more wine, that is number one for me.”

According to Petroski, the partnership with Gallo can expand his reach, expand his production and expand his sales. For fans of Massican, Petroski wants them to know he’s hoping this move will help him make better wines. “At times I haven’t felt like I’ve been giving everything I’ve got,” he said, citing things like logistics and sales that take up his time. “With more tools and more support, I can delegate that and focus more on winemaking.” He also hopes to scale the production of the wines up, while also keeping them affordable.

Currently, Massican makes about 7,500 cases of wine, and Petroski expects that to jump to 10,000 cases with the 2023 vintage, tapping into grape sources from other parts of California that Gallo has access to. He’s particularly excited about adding a Pinot Grigio to his lineup. “The focus will be on Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio. We have 12 distributors in 14 states, so there’s plenty of room to grow.” He adds that the Annia, Gemina (a blend of Greco and Fahlangina) and a Hyde Vineyard Chardonnay will remain in his portfolio, with hopes to expand production of those as well.

Petroski describes his inspiration coming both from the idea of wine bringing people together, as well as other vintners like Joel Gott who can make terrific, affordable wines at volume. But he also admits that after harvesting 22 tons of Sauvignon Blanc in the last week, he’s just beginning to realize where he can take his project now. “It hasn’t sunk in yet.”

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Source : https://www.winespectator.com/articles/gallo-buys-napa-boutique-winery-massican

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