Champagne house Maison Louis Roederer has purchased Diamond Creek, one of Napa’s Valley’s legendary boutique Cabernet Sauvignon pioneers. It’s the second recent high-profile California acquisition for Roederer, which purchased Sonoma Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc star Merry Edwards in May 2019. The deal includes the 80-acre property, winery and brand. The purchase price was not disclosed.
Roederer, owned by the Rouzaud family, is no stranger to Cabernet Sauvignon, as the company has a strong foothold in Bordeaux with its ownership of second-growth Château Pichon Lalande in Pauillac as well as Château de Pez in St.-Estèphe.
The fit seems obvious in many ways. Many pioneering wineries of Napa Valley of the 1960s and 1970s have changed hands in recent years. There was already a friendship between the two sides dating to the 1980s. It grew closer in 1997 when Diamond Creek founders Al and Boots Brounstein were invited to Paris by Jean-Claude Rouzaud to celebrate his 30-year anniversary of running Louis Roederer. The relationship endured through Al’s passing and Jean-Claude’s retirement in 2006, carried on by Jean-Claude’s son Frédéric and Boots. The two were exploring ways to partner until she passed away in July 2019 at age 92.
“My mom was involved with this. And we had been looking for the right partner to continue our great legacy,” says Boots’ son Phil Ross, the current proprietor. “Both families are excited about this. I’m second generation, and there isn’t a third generation to carry on. We would have done that if there were. But with the situation as is, this was the right thing to do. Frédéric is a class act.”
Diamond Creek was founded by the Brounsteins in 1968. The property includes 24 acres of vines, including some original plantings, producing around 2,000 cases of wine annually.
Before planting, the husband-and-wife team discovered different soil types on their property and opted to keep the vineyards separate, making their property one of the first in Napa to focus on single-vineyard wines. The estate ranges in elevation from 400 to 800 feet, with varying exposures and fluctuating
temperatures between the three vineyards. Even though the Cabernets produced from each vineyard share a common thread of density and structure, each reveals individual characteristics. The wines are also among the most long-lived in Napa.
The current generation at Diamond Creek, led by Ross and longtime winemaker Phil Steinschriber, has agreed to stay on and help with the transition. The winery will be retaining much of its current team for the foreseeable future.
Roederer, founded in 1776, has been continuously family-owned since the early 19th century. Under the leadership of CEO and President Frédéric Rouzaud, the company has added numerous small-production, high-quality estates to its portfolio, including Delas in the Rhône Valley and Domaines Ott in Provence, Ramos-Pinto in Portugal and the Champagne house of Deutz. Rouzaud is also a strong proponent of organic and biodynamic viticulture.
Article credit: James Molesworth