Bundschus acquire Valley of the Moon Winery property
The Bundschu family has purchased the 60 acre Valley of the Moon/Madrone Estate winery and vineyard property on Madrone Road in Glen Ellen.
Bundschu Company, the parent company of Gundlach Bundschu, acquired the property from the Stewart family who have been operating West Coast Wine Partners in Sonoma since 2011, and also own Lake Sonoma Winery. The transaction closed Wednesday, Feb. 26. The terms were not disclosed.
The Glen Ellen winery site will become the new home to Abbot’s Passage Winery & Mercantile, the brand launched by Katie Bundschu, 37, in 2015. The family expects a soft opening summer 2020 and a grand opening in early fall. The Valley of the Moon Winery tasting room will close this week.
Originally settled by Mariano Vallejo in 1861, the Valley of the Moon Winery property includes a large zinfandel vineyard planted in 1940 and a barrel room built in 1863. “The vineyard is a treasure,” said Bundschu Company president Jeff Bundschu, Kate’s brother. “It’s a heritage space.”
The property is located on the banks of Sonoma Creek and its neighbors include Bedrock Winery, Hamel Family and Little Vineyards.
Bundschu, 51, said that the family has been looking for strategic ways to grow the company for several years and that this acquisition “checks off a bunch of boxes.” He said that the company has grown out of its Denmark Road space and has explored numerous options for additional production and hospitality administration space.
“We looked at warehouse space on Eighth Street, at building a new winery on our property or expanding the footprint of our existing winery but then this opportunity kind of fell into our lap,” he said. “It’s a great place for us to leverage what we’re already pretty good at, which is making great wine and then creating great experiences to share it with people.”
The new winery expands the Bundschu Company’s production capacity “dramatically,” he said. “And in terms of potential synergies, it makes a lot of sense. Most importantly, Katie can expand her vision for Abbot’s Passage, which has been a great success to date, albeit on a small scale.” He added that Abbot’s Passage will retain its downtown space at the end of Wine Alley for the foreseeable future.
The winery space being acquired by the Bundschus at 777 Madrone includes a commercial kitchen, which Bundschu said would enable Abbot’s Passage to offer culinary experiences and also serve as a site for food operations across the company. Bundschu notes that the winery’s tasting room was recently remodeled and that the property boasts a winemaking facility that has been kept meticulously up-to-date.
Bundschu expects the transition to be a smooth one.
“It’s a couple of family businesses who are working together,” he said. “The Stewarts did a great job preserving the heritage there and we’re going to continue it.”
“We could not be more thrilled that this historic estate is being passed to the hands of such a dedicated family here in the Sonoma Valley,” said Tony Stewart, president of West Coast Wine Partners, which will retain the Madrone Estate and Valley of the Moon brands, and operate them from their Lake Sonoma property.
The Bundschus have been producing wines in Sonoma Valley since 1858.
“I’ve operated my whole career here with one eye on the past and one on the future -- doing right by our long family legacy in the Valley as well as being opportunistic about ways to continue to make a living,” said Bundschu.
The Bundschu Company brands include Gundlach Bundschu, Abbot’s Passage and Echo Echo. Jeff Bundschu also produces music concerts including the annual Huichica Music Festival.
Bundschu said the acquisition of the Valley of the Moon property was not a move he made lightly.
“This is a big, big opportunity for our family and it means a lot of work for us, but this is a great chance to work with another historic property in a different part of the Valley,” he said. “To say we’re excited is an understatement.”
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