SANTA ROSA, Calif. — Vintage Wine Estates, a fast-growing Sonoma County-based, vertically integrated wine company with a portfolio inclusive of 34 iconic national and international brands, announced today a new partnership with Jon Sebastiani and Sonoma Brands. Sonoma Brands is a unique food & beverage products incubator and private equity fund led by Sonoma-based Jon Sebastiani. Founded in 2008, Vintage Wine Estates is now the 14th largest wine company in the United States with wines that match every price point and owns a collection of iconic wine estates, including VIANSA Sonoma. Under the new partnership, Jon Sebastiani and the Sonoma Brands team will assume management of VIANSA, established by Jon’s family in 1989.
VIANSA was among the first wineries to create an elevated guest experience that expressed the wine country lifestyle. Jon Sebastiani began his career at the family winery, ultimately serving as President. Under his stewardship, VIANSA became an influential brand and a popular tasting and touring destination. The winery was sold by the family in 2005 and acquired by Vintage Wine Estates in 2013. Jon Sebastiani went on to launch several popular Sonoma-based businesses including KRAVE, Sonoma Brands and SMASHMALLOW.
“This is very much a coming home for me,” said Jon Sebastiani, Founder and President of Sonoma Brands. “With a heritage deeply rooted in the Sonoma Valley wine region, I’m eager to add our family name back to the voice of this industry and join forces with such a wonderful strategic partner in Vintage Wine Estates. After years of growing amazing consumer brands, primarily focused in the food and non-alcoholic beverage space, I am thrilled to bring that knowledge and playbook back to the wine industry.”
From starting his career in the family wine business to successful Sonoma-based CPG brand creation, Jon Sebastiani has deeps roots in the region. To take his journey full circle, Sebastiani joins Vintage Wine Estates through Sonoma Brands’ participation in the AGR Partners investment in Vintage Wine Estates. In April 2018, AGR Partners, an investment firm dedicated to food and agribusiness, provided growth capital through a minority equity stake in Vintage Wine Estates and under the terms of AGR Partners’ agreement with Sonoma Brands, Jon Sebastiani will become the 4th largest shareholder in Vintage Wine Estates, and member of their Board of Directors, where he will be lending his brand-building power.
Jon’s family history and heritage will provide the inspiration for the Sonoma Brands team who will directly manage the property. Jon Sebastiani’s brother, Christopher Sebastiani, will transition into the General Manager leadership role. Long-time winemaker Amy Ludovissy will continue to oversee production and management of the winery’s vineyards under the stylistic direction of Jon, Christopher and their team.
“I am thrilled with the opportunity to bring our family’s heritage back to this iconic winery at the gateway to Sonoma Valley,” says Christopher Sebastiani. “Along with the broader Sonoma Brands team, Jon and I will aim to cast our generation’s personality and focus back to VIANSA, continuing to elevate the property as a destination for food and wine innovation and world class hospitality.”
“We are delighted to have found a strategic partner in Sonoma Brands and appreciate the legacy that comes with the team. We know it will help us continue expand in the right direction,” said Pat Roney, CEO of Vintage Wine Estates. “With the support of Sonoma Brands and their expertise in building some of the nation’s most successful food and beverage companies, we will continue to innovate, adding value to our portfolio of brands and growing our leadership role in the industry.”
Vintage Wine Estates was founded when Pat Roney, owner of Napa Valley’s Girard Winery, purchased Sonoma’s Windsor Vineyards, the wine industry’s first direct-to-consumer brand. Today, Vintage Wine Estates produces close to 2 million cases, owns a collection of wineries and estates, consumer and exclusive wine brands. Vintage Wine Estates markets and sells their wines across multiple channels, including wholesale, direct-to-consumer, tasting rooms, wine clubs, internet, telesales and television.
For more information about Jon Sebastiani and Sonoma Brands, please visit www.sonomabrands.com. And for the full list of vineyards in the Vintage Wine Estates portfolio, please visit www.vintagewineestates.com.
About Vintage Wine Estates
Vintage Wine Estates is a privately held wine company owned by a group of vintner families with deep roots in the wine business. The families own a collection of winery estates and brands including Clos Pegase Winery, Cosentino Winery, Girard Winery, B.R. Cohn Winery, Swanson Vineyards, Viansa Sonoma, Windsor Vineyards, Cameron Hughes, Firesteed, Sonoma Coast Vineyards, Clayhouse, Tamarack Cellars, Layer Cake, Cherry Pie, Splinter Group Spirits, Middle Sister, Bar Dog, Girl & Dragon, Purple Cowboy and a number of exclusive wine brands. An industry leader across all sales channels and dedicated to providing wine consumers with a range of wines from $10 to $100 dollars and at many price points in between, Vintage Wine Estates produces outstanding wines from Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino, Paso Robles, Washington State and Oregon. www.vintagewineestates.com
About Sonoma Brands
Founded in 2016, Sonoma Brands is a specialist growth equity firm exclusively dedicated to disruptive, high-growth consumer brands. Inspired by the heritage of California’s wine country, Sonoma Brands is committed to authenticity, quality and innovation. Led by Jon Sebastiani, founder of artisanal jerky brand, KRAVE Jerky, Sonoma Brands seeks to further CPG entrepreneurship by developing, launching and supporting promising, creative and disruptive brands. For more information on Sonoma Brands, please visit www.sonomabrands.com.
About Jon Sebastiani
Jon Sebastiani is the founder of artisanal jerky brand, KRAVE, and leader of the jerky renaissance, leading KRAVE to their successful acquisition by The Hershey Company. His expertise in the field has been cultivated through various business pursuits, including his background in operations and previous positions as managing partner of Wine.com and President of the premier California winery destination, Viansa Winery. He is a graduate of Santa Clara University with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and holds a dual MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley and Columbia University.
About AGR Partners
AGR Partners is an investment firm based in Davis, California, and Chicago, Illinois, dedicated to backing strong, food company and agribusiness teams through long-term investments of non-controlling equity or subordinated debt to facilitate late-stage growth, strategic acquisitions, full buyouts and ownership transitions. For further information, visit www.AGRpartners.com