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Gaylon Lawrence Jr. Buys Haynes Vineyard in Coombsville for $12.5 million

Sale of the property east of Napa includes 32 acres of planted vineyards, a 20,000-gallon winery, and a vineyard manager residence
by Kerana Todorov
September 25, 2019


The billionaire owner of Heitz Cellar has purchased Haynes Vineyard in the Coombsville sub-appellation of the Napa Valley, the company announced Tuesday.

Gaylon Lawrence Jr. purchased the 43-acre property from the Haynes family for about $12.525 million, according to county records. The property had been listed on the market for $15 million.

The sale of the property east of Napa includes 32 acres of planted vineyards, a 20,000-gallon winery and a vineyard manager residence.

Heitz president and CEO Carlton McCoy told Wine Business Monthly the company will source Chardonnay, Syrah and Pinot Noir beginning with the 2020 vintage to produce wine under a new brand. There will be no tasting room on the site, McCoy said. He also plans no major changes to the winery.

The Haynes family planted Wente clone Chardonnay in 1967 and Martini clone Pinot Noir a year later, according to a press release. The old vines planted in volcanic soils are still producing and will not be pulled, stressed McCoy, a sommelier who enjoys the wines produced from the vineyard.

The plan is to create wines under a new label. A winemaking team is going to be hired for the new wines, McCoy said. The company also plans to develop 2 acres on the Haynes site to experiment with varieties such Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Mourvèdre.|

The late Duncan Haynes, an attorney, and his wife, Pat, developed the vineyard in the 1960s on land that had been in his mother’s family since 1885, according to his obituary. The family opened Whitford Cellars in 1983.

Ancien was at Haynes Vineyard for the past 20 years, said Ken Bernards, Ancien proprietor and founding winemaker. Ancien is moving to Cuvaison, Bernards said. Its wines continue to be available at Vintner's Collective in Napa.

Duncan Haynes first sold the fruit to Louis Martini, one of his client at his San Francisco law firm. Legendary winemaker André Tchelistcheff oversaw the production of the Haynes Pinot Noir wines in the 1990s.

“We are honored to have the opportunity to preserve the history and legacy of such a great vineyard. We are thrilled to bring on a new team to craft wines for this new estate,” Lawrence said in the written statement.

The vineyard supplies fruit for a number of producers, including Ancien, Infield and Failla.

John Lockwood, owner of Enfield Wine Co., sources fruit from multiple properties, including Syrah and Chardonnay, the oldest vines for that variety in the Napa Valley. He will make wine again this year with fruit purchased from Haynes Vineyard. “I don’t know about next year,” Lockwood said.

Lawrence, who is based in Nashville, Tenn., bought Heitz Cellars in April 2018 for $180 million from the Heitz family. In April, Lawrence acquired 51-acre Wildwood Vineyard in Rutherford for $25 million from Treasury Wine Estates, according to public records.

His company, The Lawrence Group, manages 180,000 acres of farmland in multiple states, including citrus groves in Florida, crops in Mississippi and vineyards in California, according to a biography published this summer for a symposium on agriculture at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. His holdings also include community banks and commercial real estate in Nashville and Vallejo, where he is working with winemaker Dave Phinney to develop 500 acres on Mare Island, according to news reports.

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