Charles A. Banks — a former Santa Barbara resident whose Terroir Capital firm is partial owner of Qupe Winery among other brands around the world — was indicted on federal wire fraud charges last week related to investments he made on behalf of basketball star Tim Duncan. Banks turned himself into authorities in San Antonio last Friday and was released after posting a $50,000 cash bond in lieu of the $1 million bail.
The charges, which each carry a 20-year maximum sentence in federal prison, come from investments that Banks got Duncan to make in a sports merchandise company called Gameday Entertainment. Duncan said he was misled by Banks and, in one situation, only shown the signature page of a contract. Duncan sued Banks personally over those transactions last year, and this federal case, although not explicitly naming Duncan, mirrors those same details.
Banks entered the wine business in 2001 by helping to start Jonata Winery in the Santa Ynez Valley. In 2006, he bought the cult Napa Valley winery Screaming Eagle along with developer and sports franchise owner Stan Kroenke (who now is the sole owner of both Screaming Eagle and Jonata).
Upon getting out of both wineries, Banks started Terroir Capital and began acquiring legendary brands like Mayacamas in Napa and, in 2013, Qupe Winery, whose founder Bob Lindquist is a pioneer in California for syrah and other Rhone grape varieties. Banks and his wife, Ali, also purchased Mattei’s Tavern and won the rights to redevelop the property after much community debate in Los Olivos.
“We’re knee deep in Santa Barbara,” Banks told The Santa Barbara Independent in October 2013. “I love this county, and I think we have the potential to make wine as good as any single place on earth.”
It’s unclear what effect, if any, Banks’ indictment will have on his winery holdings. His attorney, John Murphy, told reporters outside the San Antonio courthouse, “He’s a long-term successful businessman, a family man, a church man. We’re confident that when all the facts and circumstances come to light, everyone will see there’s another side, and that he’s innocent of these charges.”
Lindquist of Qupe also issued his support for Banks. “Charles is a stand up guy and has been a great supporter of what I do,” said Linquist on Monday. “Terroir and Qupé are separate from these dealings and so this has no effect on us.”