Monday, February 28, 2011 at 6:06PM
At 2 p.m. Buena Vista Carneros employees at the Duhig Road facility were told that the parent company, Ascentia Wine Estates was moving operations to the Geyser Peak location and that their future employment was uncertain. According to my source (I’d make a joke about that cliche if it weren’t such a sad subject) the CEO said because of the bad economy they would keep the venerable label but the Carneros winery would close, or at least end it’s life as Buena Vista Carneros.
As is so often the case, employees were shocked, none of them saw it coming. The news was delivered after a deal to sell 300+ acres of Carneros vineyards and the winery fell through on Friday. Employees were told that the decision was made over the weekend. The rush to tell employees of their fate, without much detailed information, was necessary because the company that had been slated to buy the vineyards was getting ready to release the info to its stockholders.
According to a Press Democrat article, Buena Vista was part of a 2008 deal in which Jim DeBonis, a Sonoma native, and his partners acquired eight Sonoma wineries from Constellation Brands to form Ascentia Wine Estates. Then the economy tanked, wine sales suffered and last year, one of the investors and the wine group's marketing partner, W.J. Deutsch & Sons sued the company, claiming DeBonis had inflated sales figures. DeBonis was replaced by Artesa's Michael Kenton in January.