by Andrew Chalk
Did you wake up this morning and say “I should buy a winery”? Well, you are in luck because I have found one for sale! And this is not an anonymous micro-producer but a major name in the Hill Country, less than a mile from the start of the U.S.290 wine trail in Johnson City.
On the back side of the flyer is a detailed list of the winery equipment and the grape varieties (even down to the clonal selection) planted in the vineyard.
Most interesting to me was the statement “Well established wine brand”. That implies that the brand, as well as the physical assets, are included in the sale. You could step in and have a working winery with distribution agreements, restaurant placements, consumer following, etc. right from day one. Due diligence will determine the extent of all that.
I have had some respectable Tempranillo wines from Texas Hills Vineyard and would suggest anybody who is seriously thinking of winemaking in the Texas Hill Country, whether they have the resources to buy this outright or are part of a consortium of investors, to look at this offering seriously.
The downside is that they are just east of the eastern periphery of the Texas Wine Trail, rather than in the sweet spot just east of Fredericksburg. That hurts the crucial cellar door sales. However, this could be offset by opening a tasting facility on U.S. 290, probably in collaboration with other producers (4.0 Cellars is the model for this). The purchase presumably also does not come with a winemaker. That is a good thing. The buyer can hire their own. I would get a three-year contract in place with a Dan Gatlin or a Kim McPherson, or the like, before signing the mortgage. No learning from correspondence courses (the five million dollar mortgage will kill you while you pick stuff up).
Also, look at this as a long-term investment. But… the buyer is getting in at an inflection point in the Texas wine industry. The future is very promising.