E&J Gallo purchased the historic Sierra Madre Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley this week, just days after taking over the nearby Rancho Real Vineyard. It marks an increased interest in Central Coast grapes for Gallo, which already owns Bridlewood Estate Winery in the Santa Ynez Valley as well as Edna Valley Vineyard in San Luis Obispo County and Talbott Vineyards in Monterey County.
First planted in 1971, the 542-acre Sierra Madre consists of 151 acres of grapevines, mostly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which are currently sold to about 35 different wineries. “Gallo will honor all grape contracts” with existing customers, according to the press release.
The property was sold by Doug Circle, a longtime strawberry farmer in the area, who purchased the land 15 years ago. “We feel blessed to have had the opportunity to shepherd this magical Central Coast vineyard for 15 years of its exceptional 47-year history, and are pleased that it is now passing to another family who will responsibly steward it into its next chapter,” said Circle.
John Wagner, who also owns John Sebastiano Vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills and Peake Ranch Winery, had invested into the property in recent years as well.
On May 3, Gallo purchased the nearby Rancho Real, which is 436 acres, with 211 acres planted to grapevines, including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, Grenache, Viognier, Pinot Gris, and Gamay. Though more recently planted, that property, also known as Murmur Vineyard, had become popular with up-and-coming winemakers in both Santa Barbara and Paso Robles. “Gallo will honor all existing Rancho Real grape contracts and land leases,” said spokesperson Lon Gallagher of that purchase.
Terms of neither deal were disclosed.