The Real Deal

Vine Cliff Winery in Oakville AVA Sold to Quiet Owner

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Another family-owned Napa Valley winery is under new ownership.

The Sweeney family sold Vine Cliff Winery this summer to an entity controlled by the head of a worldwide security company based in Montreal, Canada, according to the county deed and state records.

Nell and Charles “Chuck” Sweeney, who acquired the land in the mid-1980s, agreed to sell their winery as part of their divorce agreement, according to court filings.

The sale includes nearly 100 acres on a hillside east of the Silverado Trail in the Oakville American Viticultural Area, according to the deed. The property features the winery, which can produce up to 48,000 gallons of wine a year; about 23 acres of planted vineyards, two caves, a pond and a residence on top of the hill.

The purchase price is unknown. The real estate alone was sold for $42.1 million, according to the deed filed Aug. 1 in Napa. However, that dollar figure does not include the sale of the business and other assets.

The buyer listed on the deed is SCW Fund Corp., a business entity controlled by Stephan Cretier, according to records with the California Secretary of State. Cretier’s name is also spelled Crétier in various records.

SCW Fund was incorporated in Delaware, according to statement on file with the California Secretary of State. A listed mailing address is a legal firm in Laval, Quebec, in Canada, according to the filing.

Crétier, founder, chairman, president and CEO of GardaWorld Security Corp. headquartered in Montreal, Canada, and wife Stephany Maillery also own Roy Estate, a Napa Valley winery on Soda Canyon Road, according to county and state records.

Crétier told Dolce Magazine in June 2022 the 2017 wildfire destroyed several buildings on the Roy Estate property hours after he purchased the estate. Roy Estate’s main building has since been rebuilt.

Future plans for Vine Cliff are unclear. The parties involved in the sale could not be reached to discuss the transaction. Winery employees declined to comment.

Vine Cliff’s website indicates wine was first produced at the Vine Cliff site in the 1870s.

Nell and Chuck Sweeney, the founder of the Landmark Hotels chain, acquired the Vine Cliff property in 1985 and farmed grapes. A new wine production facility was built in the 1990s.

In 2018, the Sweeney family came before the Napa County Planning Commission to obtain a modification of their use permit in an effort to host more visitors.

Vine Cliff is allowed to host daily tours and tastings, by appointment only. Under the 2018 use permit, the winery can receive up to 350 daily visitors per week with food pairing, according to county records. In addition, Vine Cliff can host up to 140 marketing events a year for more than 2,500 guests.

County records indicate the Vine Cliff’s tasting room on Highway 29 was sold in 2021 to a business entity owned by Gaylon M. Lawrence Jr., the Tennessee-based billionaire who purchased Heitz Cellars in 2018.

Family-owned wineries that have recently sold include Rombauer Vineyards to E. & J. Gallo.


Companies mentioned in this article:

Roy Estate

Napa, CA
More from Roy Estate

WineBusiness Daily News  Feb 25, 2022

Vine Cliff Winery

Napa, CA
More from Vine Cliff Winery