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A San Antonio family's $2.5m bid make it the potential new owner of Texas's troubled Cap*Rock Wine Company


Date: 08/06/10

by David Furer

Jim and Cathy Bodenstedt operate MUY Brands, a business consisting of 117 Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Long John Silver's and A&W restaurants in Texas and New Mexico. The Bodenstedts submitted one of two offers in a sealed-bid auction which ended midnight Tuesday, August 3. The auction results were presented to the US Bankruptcy Court on Wednesday and the Bodenstedts have 30 days to close on the sale.

Having estimated its worth at $2.5m, Cap*Rock's managing partner Don Roark had filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy on December 23, 2009 with debts, including unpaid county property taxes and a $4 million loan from former owner PlainsCapital Bank, estimated at more than $5 million. The auction was also a hurried attempt to get a new owner situated before the commencement of the 2010 harvest. "This year's harvest...will be an opportunity for Cap*Rock to extend its history of fine wine making," Cap*Rock manager Phillip Anderson said.

A statement from the Bodenstedts indicated they'll maintain the winery's current state while developing plans to upgrade the operation and expand the label's distribution, mostly in Texas with small amounts in Colorado, to a national brand.

The second auction was held after Albuquerque-based winery co-owner Laurent Gruet, following a trip to France, couldn't find financing for his $6.5m bid offered at the initial one held July 12. Co-owners of the 21-year old winery, siblings Laurent & Nathalie Gruet, had planned to use the facility to augment its renowned New Mexico sparkling wine production with that of Cap*Rock in Texas.

At Wednesday's court session, Cap*Rock trustee Max Tarbox told Bankruptcy Judge Robert Jones he'll pursue claims against Gruet and the Gruet Winery as a result of the New Mexico winemaker's failure to honor the original auction bid. In a conference two weeks ago Tarbox said he'd retained an attorney with regards to Gruet's alleged violation of bidding terms, options which include suing Gruet to meet his bid. Tarbox has $100,000 from Gruet though auction rules required the successful bidder to deposit an amount equal to 10% of the sale bid which, in Gruet's case, would have been $650,000.

According to New Mexico television and newspaper reports Laurent Gruet has received five citations for driving while under the influence of alcohol resulting in two convictions. If winery co-owner Gruet is found guilty for the pending fifth citation he'll likely both lose his license to drive and place in jeopardy his New Mexico license to own an alcohol-production facility. The Gruet Winery told Wine Business Monthly they're not commenting at this time.

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