Napa Valley’s Stony Hill Vineyard sells to Long Meadow Ranch -- SF Chronicle

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Ed Steinway
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Napa Valley’s Stony Hill Vineyard sells to Long Meadow Ranch -- SF Chronicle

#1 Post by Ed Steinway » August 28th, 2018, 6:31 am

From Esther Mobley in the SF Chronicle.

https://www.sfgate.com/wine/article/Nap ... fa34c34e4a

Ed

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Re: Napa Valley’s Stony Hill Vineyard sells to Long Meadow Ranch -- SF Chronicle

#2 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » August 28th, 2018, 7:22 am

Oh no!
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Long Meadow Ranch acquires StonyHill

#3 Post by C h r i s t i n e Z u b r i s » August 28th, 2018, 7:24 am

https://www.sfchronicle.com/wine/articl ... 186631.php

Not sure if I should be sad or happy. I just hope the incredible Stony Hill style stays the same (non-oaky, no malo)
-CZ

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Re: Napa Valley’s Stony Hill Vineyard sells to Long Meadow Ranch -- SF Chronicle

#4 Post by Todd F r e n c h » August 28th, 2018, 7:58 am

I just posted this in a thread, as I put the press release in one of the static pages of the blog - shocking news, as I had no clue Long Meadow Ranch had that kind of money, and don't know what their wine style is but I hope it doesn't change Stony Hill!
Apparently I'm lazy, have a narrow agenda, and offer little in the way of content and substance (RMP) (and have a "penchant for gossip" -KBI)

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Re: Napa Valley’s Stony Hill Vineyard sells to Long Meadow Ranch -- SF Chronicle

#5 Post by Brian Gilp » August 28th, 2018, 8:32 am

Long Meadow Ranch made one really good Cab back in the 1990s when Cathy Corison was the wine maker. Once they parted ways, I haven't kept up.

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Re: Napa Valley’s Stony Hill Vineyard sells to Long Meadow Ranch -- SF Chronicle

#6 Post by bob poirier » August 28th, 2018, 8:53 am

I've had the LMR cab a few times and would say it is definitely more in the Corison camp than TRB/Mike Smith wines, point of reference i prefer TRB/Mike Smith

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Re: Napa Valley’s Stony Hill Vineyard sells to Long Meadow Ranch -- SF Chronicle

#7 Post by Michael S. Monie » August 28th, 2018, 8:58 am

Helluva ride getting to Stony Hill with all those switchbacks, but well worth the effort. One of the best visits I've ever had.
It's the root of all evil and you know the rest, but it's way ahead of what's second best.

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Re: Napa Valley’s Stony Hill Vineyard sells to Long Meadow Ranch -- SF Chronicle

#8 Post by Todd F r e n c h » August 28th, 2018, 9:30 am

Received this letter from Sarah at Stony Hill, and was given permission to post it for the WBers. It's really a fantastic read.

Dear Friends of Stony Hill,

This letter has been a long time coming, and we want to assure you that this news is good news. Starting this month, our friends Ted, Laddie and Chris Hall of Long Meadow Ranch will acquire a majority interest in Stony Hill.

Here are the facts that converged last year telling us it was time for a change. First, for some time we have known that Stony Hill was in need of significant infrastructure improvements that were beyond our means. Second, the cost, in both time and money of managing our national wholesale sales had become very challenging, a reality facing most tiny wineries today. Lastly, we have long wanted to find a way to provide some degree of retirement security for our incredibly hard working and loyal team, most of whom have been with us for over thirty years.

To tackle these issues, we knew we would need to either sell or join forces with another business. We began by imagining a perfect scenario: finding another family who already knew and loved Stony Hill, who shared our values and our passion for great wine and also happened to have the infrastructure and resources to let Stony Hill flourish. We are very happy to let you know that we found exactly what we hoped for in the Hall family.

Our two families have known each other for almost thirty years. We have shared professional interests, trained together as Master Gardeners, enjoyed many musical performances together, and worked side-by side in local community leadership positions. Perhaps as a foreshadowing, Ted has had Stony Hill wines in his cellar since the 1980s, which he began collecting even before meeting Peter and Willinda. Yes, Ted is one of those folks with an index card written by Eleanor.

The plan for Stony Hill is to continue to make the elegant, restrained, food-friendly wines we are known for, and to continue to see visitors here at the winery every day. Ted, Laddie and Chris understand and appreciate what makes this place so special, and we have total confidence that they will carry on the best of its traditions and also provide the TLC is has been craving.

As for the people of Stony Hill, the McCrea family will retain an equity interest in the Halls’ company, LMR Wine Estates. This means we will continue to be involved, with Peter joining the LMR advisory board and Sarah joining the LMR executive team. Mike Chelini will continue on as winemaker through the 2018 harvest, and then take on the role of Winemaker Emeritus, and the vineyard and hospitality teams will continue in their roles. Some members of the LMR team will also join the day to day activities at Stony Hill, and in fact, LMR’s farming team has already been helping us in the vineyard this entire growing season, getting a jump on converting Stony Hill to fully organic farming.

This is a wonderful beginning to a new chapter at Stony Hill. As you know, our family has had a fantastic run of 75 years here on Spring Mountain. Fred and Eleanor arrived in 1943, and we are now seeing our third and fourth generations of McCreas calling Stony Hill home. We have loved every minute we’ve spent creating and nurturing what has become one of America’s most well-respected wine estates. We hope you will welcome Ted, Laddie, Chris and the entire Long Meadow Ranch family into you homes and hearts as you have done with us. Please be in touch with any questions, and we will answer them as best we can. It has been our family’s greatest pleasure to bring joy to so many people all across the US and the world. Nothing creates friendships and community quite like opening a good bottle of wine. We look forward to opening many more, now with a few more faces around the table.

One last thing...Esther Mobley wrote a wonderful piece in the SF Chronicle this morning. Click here to read it!



All our Best,

Peter, Willinda and Sarah McCrea

Ted, Laddie and Chris Hall
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Re: Napa Valley’s Stony Hill Vineyard sells to Long Meadow Ranch -- SF Chronicle

#9 Post by Howard Cooper » August 28th, 2018, 2:51 pm

Sad to see Stony Hill go as an independent entity. Even if LMR keeps making the wine in a traditional manner, my guess is that the taste will change with Mike Chelini apparently retiring. He is a legend and I hope that he enjoys retirement. I have not had a LMR wine, but home for the best since I love their Farmstead restaurant. Nothing ever stays the same I guess.
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Re: Long Meadow Ranch acquires StonyHill

#10 Post by Carlton McCrindle » August 28th, 2018, 6:28 pm

C h r i s t i n e Z u b r i s wrote:
August 28th, 2018, 7:24 am
https://www.sfchronicle.com/wine/articl ... 186631.php

Not sure if I should be sad or happy. I just hope the incredible Stony Hill style stays the same (non-oaky, no malo)
Initially I shared your reaction. As I thought about it, I've come to the conclusion that if McCreas are happy with the arrangement, so am I.
Back in the 80s, my wife and I were preparing for our 1st trip to Napa. I recall having read an article about this family operation and Peter and Willinda's decision to relocate from the Midwest and return to the vineyard to carry on the work of Fred and Eleanor who wanted to retire. I wrote a letter to Stony Hill asking if we could visit the vineyard. While informing us that they were not open to the public for wine tasting, they replied that they would be pleased to grant our request.
As Michael alludes to in his post above, the trip up Spring Mountain is amazing, especially in an economy class rental car! We were surprised at how much cooler it was compared to the Napa Valley. We were greeted by Willinda who showed us around, which included a look at the vines, a stop at the barrel room and a brief introduction to winemaker Mike Celini.
Having experienced more than we had requested, we were about to say our goodbyes when Willinda asked if we wanted to taste any of their wines. We agreed and were taken to what I believe was the former residence of Fred and Eleanor, and seated in what must have been their dining room, looking east over the valley below. The wines, the conversation and the views were outstanding. This has been the most memorable tasting experience we have ever had.
Over the years since, we have enjoyed their wines, especially the Chardonnay, the Gewurtz and the Rieslings. We echo Christine's hope that the incredible Stony Hill style remains the same.
We congratulate both the McCreas and the Hills and look forward to Mike Cheiini's last vintage as head winemaker and the new chapter at Stony Hill.

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Re: Napa Valley’s Stony Hill Vineyard sells to Long Meadow Ranch -- SF Chronicle

#11 Post by Karl K » August 28th, 2018, 9:16 pm

Stony Hill has a special place in my heart.

Mike Chelini an amazing person.

The closing of a legendary chapter in the history of Napa wine.

Not to say futures chapters wouldn’t be good, but a moment to pause and reflect on the impermanence of all things.
K a z a k s

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Re: Napa Valley’s Stony Hill Vineyard sells to Long Meadow Ranch -- SF Chronicle

#12 Post by Howard Cooper » August 29th, 2018, 4:25 am

Karl K wrote:
August 28th, 2018, 9:16 pm

Not to say futures chapters wouldn’t be good, but a moment to pause and reflect on the impermanence of all things.
My favorite wine producer has long been Jacky Truchot. I remember the first time I visited him in 2002 and being struck by the old barrels there - they were so old they kind of looked grey. Jacky Truchot retired after only a few more vintages. Over the years, I have only seen barrels that looked old like that in two places - both in California. The two places were Mayacamas (since sold) and Stony Hill (now being sold). Yep, time changes.
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Re: Napa Valley’s Stony Hill Vineyard sells to Long Meadow Ranch -- SF Chronicle

#13 Post by Walt Hoehler » August 29th, 2018, 9:35 am

Sounds as though they found a good solution to a difficult problem. Scale (or lack thereof) can be limiting.

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Re: Napa Valley’s Stony Hill Vineyard sells to Long Meadow Ranch -- SF Chronicle

#14 Post by lleichtman » August 29th, 2018, 2:40 pm

I received the email from them yesterday and was taken aback at first but then I remembered that I like Long Meadow Ranch Cabs but I don't know what experience they have in making Chardonnay and Semillon wines which are the majority of Stony Hill's lineup. I still buy a case a year from them and hope they don't change.
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Re: Napa Valley’s Stony Hill Vineyard sells to Long Meadow Ranch -- SF Chronicle

#15 Post by Dan Kravitz » August 29th, 2018, 6:03 pm

I have loved Stony Hill Chardonnays for over a third of a century. I applaud this sale. Any transition is a gamble. In fact, any business is a gamble. It sounds like they have done more than due diligence, have sold to people who have the knowledge, resources and above all the ethos to be good stewards, and have also protected their long-term employees.

Bravo!

Dan Kravitz
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Re: Napa Valley’s Stony Hill Vineyard sells to Long Meadow Ranch -- SF Chronicle

#16 Post by Karl K » August 29th, 2018, 7:00 pm

Dan

You are right about the sale being done in
what you could say is a “Stony Hill” way
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Re: Napa Valley’s Stony Hill Vineyard sells to Long Meadow Ranch -- SF Chronicle

#17 Post by Howard Cooper » August 29th, 2018, 7:57 pm

Dan Kravitz wrote:
August 29th, 2018, 6:03 pm
I have loved Stony Hill Chardonnays for over a third of a century. I applaud this sale. Any transition is a gamble. In fact, any business is a gamble. It sounds like they have done more than due diligence, have sold to people who have the knowledge, resources and above all the ethos to be good stewards, and have also protected their long-term employees.

Bravo!

Dan Kravitz
I am impressed that one reason for doing this was to allow long-term employees to cash out their stock. In today’s world, it is really neat so see a business, any business, to care for their employees to this extent.
Howard

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Re: Napa Valley’s Stony Hill Vineyard sells to Long Meadow Ranch -- SF Chronicle

#18 Post by Matt Mauldin » August 29th, 2018, 9:27 pm

Howard Cooper wrote:
August 29th, 2018, 4:25 am
Karl K wrote:
August 28th, 2018, 9:16 pm

Not to say futures chapters wouldn’t be good, but a moment to pause and reflect on the impermanence of all things.
My favorite wine producer has long been Jacky Truchot. I remember the first time I visited him in 2002 and being struck by the old barrels there - they were so old they kind of looked grey. Jacky Truchot retired after only a few more vintages. Over the years, I have only seen barrels that looked old like that in two places - both in California. The two places were Mayacamas (since sold) and Stony Hill (now being sold). Yep, time changes.
Yep. I visited both Stony Hill and Mayacamas in the years they were sold. Both were the oldest-looking cellars I've been in... And barrels aside, the presses in both were like something out of a museum. Pegau looked modern by comparison...

Wishing the best for Stony Hill. I'll continue to look for their wines.
ITB

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Re: Napa Valley’s Stony Hill Vineyard sells to Long Meadow Ranch -- SF Chronicle

#19 Post by C h r i s t i n e Z u b r i s » August 31st, 2018, 2:02 pm

lleichtman wrote:
August 29th, 2018, 2:40 pm
I received the email from them yesterday and was taken aback at first but then I remembered that I like Long Meadow Ranch Cabs but I don't know what experience they have in making Chardonnay and Semillon wines which are the majority of Stony Hill's lineup. I still buy a case a year from them and hope they don't change.
LMR definitely do not have a memorable chard like Stony Hill! Not bad, but not in the same league. The acquisition will certainly fill in their portfolio :)
-CZ

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Re: Napa Valley’s Stony Hill Vineyard sells to Long Meadow Ranch -- SF Chronicle

#20 Post by F.Daner » October 12th, 2019, 8:18 am

This is an awesome story and so hard to pull of what the Mcrea's did to find the most optimal solution for their employees, business and family. I can't believe we've never visited before but solving that soon. I'm surprised we don't see more talk about LMR and their wines. I've eaten at Farmstead many times but have never tried their wines. The style seems right in my sweet spot.
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Re: Napa Valley’s Stony Hill Vineyard sells to Long Meadow Ranch -- SF Chronicle

#21 Post by P Intag » October 12th, 2019, 10:10 am

Very timely for this thread to show up, as I just picked up a bottle of the 1995 LMR Cabernet at auction last week and drank it with dinner last night!

I don't know what LMR is up to these days, but this 1995 was great old-school Napa Cabernet. Here's my note:

1995 Long Meadow Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, California, Napa Valley (10/11/2019)
12.8% abv. Recent auction purchase.
Really lovely and elegant Napa Cab! Firmly in the tertiary phase of its life, with classic aged aromas and flavors. Medium weight with a strong spine of acidity that contributed to an overall "fresh" presentation. Silky and slightly fleshy mouthfeel, but with still a bit of firm tannin. This had good depth of flavor through the finish, though this is nothing like the density that you see in Napa Cab these days. Paired superbly with short rib, mashed potatoes, and steamed broccoli. So easy to drink - this was gone in no time between my wife and me (mostly me) - I find it a chore to get through some of these more modern Cabs. I feel very fortunate to have been able to enjoy this Corison treasure for a mere $23 (after buyer's premium)! (92 pts.)
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Re: Napa Valley’s Stony Hill Vineyard sells to Long Meadow Ranch -- SF Chronicle

#22 Post by F.Daner » October 12th, 2019, 12:15 pm

Very nice ! Looks like they do a library tasting at the general store at Farmstead. We will definitely be stopping by to try. I believe the current style is pretty similar.
P Intag wrote:
October 12th, 2019, 10:10 am
Very timely for this thread to show up, as I just picked up a bottle of the 1995 LMR Cabernet at auction last week and drank it with dinner last night!

I don't know what LMR is up to these days, but this 1995 was great old-school Napa Cabernet. Here's my note:

1995 Long Meadow Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, California, Napa Valley (10/11/2019)
12.8% abv. Recent auction purchase.
Really lovely and elegant Napa Cab! Firmly in the tertiary phase of its life, with classic aged aromas and flavors. Medium weight with a strong spine of acidity that contributed to an overall "fresh" presentation. Silky and slightly fleshy mouthfeel, but with still a bit of firm tannin. This had good depth of flavor through the finish, though this is nothing like the density that you see in Napa Cab these days. Paired superbly with short rib, mashed potatoes, and steamed broccoli. So easy to drink - this was gone in no time between my wife and me (mostly me) - I find it a chore to get through some of these more modern Cabs. I feel very fortunate to have been able to enjoy this Corison treasure for a mere $23 (after buyer's premium)! (92 pts.)
Fred

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