The Federal Trade Commission approved the acquisition of Francis Ford Coppola Winery by Delicato, making Delicato the first winery in over a decade to break into the top five largest national wineries.
In the official announcement, released on August 2, Delicato president and CEO Chris Indelicato named several strategic reasons for acquiring Francis Ford Coppola’s Sonoma County assets: “Francis and his team have created some amazing facilities and we can’t wait to take their DTC experience and replicate it across our Napa and Manteca tasting rooms.
“We do not plan to make any changes to the current pool, tasting room or restaurant facilities. Everything there is impressive and routinely sells out.”
“(It’s) business as usual,” reiterated Corey Beck, executive vice president and chief winemaker at Francis Ford
Coppola Winery, in an exclusive interview with Wine Industry Advisor. “The Delicato family is committed to keeping Francis’ vision alive and well. You have to remember Francis still owns a percentage of the new company and still has input on the facilities in Sonoma County.”
The acquisition means that Delicato welcomes more than 250 Coppola employees. “We have been extremely successful in onboarding the majority,” says Beck. “There aren’t too many wineries in the country that have a pool, tasting room and two restaurants and Delicato recognizes our commitment to hospitality. We’ve also made large investments in production technology, such as a state of the art canning line and new Charmat bottling line, which is the first in the north coast. Both of these assets will be utilized to the fullest to help meet our innovation needs.” Delicato already utilizes the Virginia Dare Winery for their Charmat sparkling and canning lines and the company “is quite excited to bring these in-house—increasing our production facilities.”
Both companies point to the approximately eighty employees that were either moved to other businesses or given generous exit packages. “There was some overlap within the administrative, selling and marketing areas, so we did see a little over 80 jobs eliminated from the deal, with a handful of employees staying on with Inglenook,” said Indelicato in an email correspondence with the Advisor. “People who were not brought over were provided a generous severance package. We believe that these talented individuals will be able to find new jobs because of their impressive backgrounds and the very tight labor market.”
He continues, “As with most acquisitions, there are some natural synergies, and we look forward to slowly and methodically assessing our production needs to meet consumer demand. Delicato needs all the winemaking and bottling capacity of the Coppola facilities. We are not anticipating any immediate changes going into the 2021 harvest.”
On the question of continuing and expanding product lines, Beck says, “there will be expansion, but Delicato’s team is extremely mindful of how this will look. Francis is working closely with the team on what segments of the business line extensions make sense and if there are products in the portfolio that are no longer relevant. We’ve been successful in launching products ahead of their time, such as wine in a can, and this type of innovation along with Delicato’s market research will serve us well moving forward.”
Beck will take the role of executive vice president of production and chief winemaker at Delicato, but there have been no announcements as to other executives who will be taking leadership roles at the company. Beck did mention that the cannabis business developed by Francis Ford Coppola is not part of the deal. Coppola was the first winery to introduce a branded cannabis product sold in a tin wine bottle reminiscent of the rest of their winery line. The Napa facilities are also not part of the merger but the Archimedes in northern Sonoma County vineyard will be 100% utilized in Indelicato wine brands.