French fashion house Chanel Inc., known for its luxurious clothes, jewelry, accessories and beauty products, is entering the Napa Valley wine business. It has agreed to buy St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery in Rutherford from the Skallis, a French viticultural family which founded St. Supéry and made the announcement this afternoon.
Robert Skalli states in a press release, “I am delighted to hand over St. Supery to such a well-regarded company that understands luxury brands and will continue to enhance this special property. I am confident that they will continue my vision of a Napa Valley Chateau, crafting world class estate wines, and will build on that foundation, ever improving quality.”
This isn’t Chanel’s first venture into the wine business. Since 1994 it has owned Château Rauzan-Ségla in the Margaux appellation of the Bordeaux region of France. Karl Lagerfeld, the head designer and creative director for the fashion house, designed the label for Chateau Rauzan-Segla’s 2009 Bordeaux estate, celebrating the winery’s 350th anniversary. Also in Chanel’s wine portfolio is Château Canon, which it bought in 1996. Originally Clos St-Martin, Château Canon is a Bordeaux from the Saint-Émilion appellation, ranked among the Premiers grands crus classés B in the Classification of Saint-Émilion wine.
The Skalli Family entered the wine business in Algeria in the 1920’s, when Robert’s grandfather, Robert-Elie, established vineyards in Oran, Mascara, Mostaganem, and Ain Temouchent. In 1961 Robert’s father, Francis, fell in love with a wild mountainous area on the remote west coast of the French Mediterranean island of Corsica. This became the Skalli Family Estate of Terra Vecchia. At the same time, he set up a French wine domestic and import business.
In 1974, Robert joined the family business, Les Chais du Sud. Through his travels over the next few years, Robert became enamored with the Napa Valley. He wasn’t alone. The wine world took notice of the Valley in 1976 at the famous Judgment of Paris.
Robert Skalli first purchased over 1530 acres in the Napa Valley in 1982. In 1985 he purchased an additional 52 acres in Rutherford, the heart of Napa Valley where he designed and built the estate winery. St. Supéry has grown into a world-class winery, garnering praise in both domestic and international markets. Owning all of their vineyards and directing every aspect of the grape-growing and winemaking process allows St Supéry to produce only the finest Napa Valley wines.
The sale will be completed later this month. Demeter Group and Rothschild acted as financial advisors to St Supéry on the transaction. There is no significant change in operations or management anticipated at the winery, which is under the direction of CEO Emma Swain.
St Supéry, a sustainably-farmed, estate winery, specializes in Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, with more than 500 acres of sustainably farmed, Napa Green certified vineyards.