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Beckstoffer Vineyards Expands in Lake County

by Kerana Todorov
January 11, 2019

Beckstoffer Vineyards has purchased a new vineyard in Lake County, where the family-owned company has farmed hundreds of acres in the Red Hills area since the late 1990s.

The St. Helena grower in December purchased more than 189 acres in the Red Hills American Viticultural Area from Treasury Wine Estates for $7 million, according to Lake County records. The deed was filed Dec. 27. The deal includes leases, adding the acreage to 220 acres, according to the company.

The Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard, known as Clear Mountain Vineyards in county records, is close to Beckstoffer’s other Red Hills properties: Amber Knolls Vineyard and Crimson Ridge Vineyard. There are about 1,100 acres of plantable acres at Amber Knolls Vineyard and about 680 acres at Crimson Ridge, according to Beckstoffer Vineyards’ website.

“We’re just expanding in the Red Hills area,” said Andy Beckstoffer, chairman and chief executive officer at Beckstoffer Vineyards in St. Helena.

A Treasury Wine Estates representative on Wednesday confirmed the sale. "In light of some refinements to appellation for certain brand tiers, Clear Mountain vineyard was considered non-core to the company's requirements. We're pleased to confirm the sale of the vineyard to Beckstoffer Vineyards, who have had a long history in the Lake County region," the company representative said in a written statement.

Robert “Bob” Steinhauer developed the vineyard for Beringer Vineyards in the late 1980s, which lie more than 2,000 feet above sea level.

Steinhauer, who had joined Beringer in 1979 as vineyard and growers relation manager, had worked for Andy Beckstoffer in the 1970s. They remain friends.

“He was ecstatic about it,” said Andy Beckstoffer, referring to the vineyard.

Steinhauer recalled looking for land outside pricey Napa and Sonoma to develop a new vineyard for Beringer, then a Nestlé-owned company. He wanted land that would produce grapes for Beringer’s North Coast white Zinfandel program and for “good red wines.”

“I looked all over the place,” Steinhauer said.

In the end he settled for the property off Highway 175 near Kelseyville in Lake County, home to walnut trees and rattlesnakes. Few vineyards were developed then in the area.

Historical temperature data from the nearby fire station indicated the area’s temperatures were very similar to those of the Napa Valley, Steinhauer said. The land was not all plantable but there was red soil, which Steinhauer said would be conducive to high quality red wines.

“We bought it,” Steinhauer said. “We made a good decision.”

Steinhauer retired from Beringer in 2004. He is now a consultant based in St. Helena.

Beckstoffer Vineyards purchased Amber Knolls Vineyard in 1997 and Crimson Ridge Vineyard in 1999.

Beringer has had different owners over the years. In 2010, Foster's acquired Southcorp Wines, a company that owned Beringer - then known as Beringer Blass, according to Treasury Wine Estates. Foster's wine business was named "Treasury Wine Estates" in 2010. Treasury Wine Estates has been a stand-alone company since 2011.

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