South Korea’s Shinsegae buys Napa vineyard for $250M

Shinsegae’s purchase is latest by out-of-state company

(iStock, Shafer Vineyards, Various, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)
(iStock, Shafer Vineyards, Various, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

South Korean conglomerate Shinsegae paid $250 million for a 209-acre Napa Valley vineyard whose roots stretch back almost 150 years.

Shinsegae’s purchase of Shafer Vineyards, through its property arm, will help boost the company’s Wine and More brand while also adding premium wines, the Korea Herald reported. Shinsegae L&B, which runs the wholesale distribution of wine and liquor, recorded a record $166 million of sales last year.

Shafer is the latest family-owned Napa Valley vineyard to sell to out-of-state or foreign investors, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Australia’s Treasury Wine Estates paid $315 million for Frank Family Vineyards, while Arkansas billionaire Gaylon Lawrence bought Heitz Wine Cellars for about $180 million. Lawrence and master sommelier Carlton McCoy also paid an undisclosed amount for Stony Hill Vineyard.

Shafer’s beginnings go back to the days when Napa Valley pioneers planted vineyards on what would be the Shafer estate, according to its website. John and Bett Shafer bought the property in 1972.

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The couple’s son, Doug Shafer, took over as president in 1994, after joining as winemaker in 1983. Both he and winemaker Elias Fernandez will stay in their roles. Doug Shafer told the Chronicle that no major changes were expected under Shinsegae’s ownership.

“Shafer remains in good hands and if my parents could be here for this moment, I know without question that they would agree,” he said.

Off-premises wine sales have jumped during the pandemic, rising 26 percent since January 2019, edging out spirits and exceeding beer.

[The Korea Herald] — Gabriel Poblete

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