Napa Valley’s Huneeus Vintners is making its first foray into Oregon. The company is purchasing Benton-Lane Winery in the Willamette Valley. The deal includes the winery, brand and inventory. Benton-Lane currently produces 35,000 cases a year.
Huneeus Vintners president Agustín Huneeus Jr. said the deal would close next week. He declined to disclose the purchase price. Owners Steven and Carol Girard will retain control of the winery’s 142-acre vineyard, planted mostly to Pinot Noir with some Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc. Huneeus has a five-year option to purchase the vineyard.
“I reached out to Steve because he was friends with my dad,” Huneeus said. “The partnership enables both families to do what they do best. The Girards will continue to farm their land and produce this spectacular fruit. Huneeus Vintners will leverage its focused sales and marketing resources.”
The Girards, who also founded and then sold Girard Winery in Napa Valley, purchased the Benton-Lane property in 1988 because of Carol’s preference for Pinot Noir. The estate straddles Benton and Lane counties, hence the name, in the foothills of the Coast Range north of Eugene.
Huneeus owns the Sonoma County Pinot Noir producer Flowers Vineyards and Winery as well as Napa Valley’s Quintessa, among others. In 2016, Huneeus sold The Prisoner brand to Constellation Brands for $285 million. Huneeus’ move into Oregon is part of a rush of outside producers making investments in Oregon, including California’s Jackson Family and Joe Wagner, Washington state’s Ste. Michelle and France’s Louis Jadot.