“Our property was unique, and we are pleased with the way Erik McLaughlin and the entire team at Metis handled representing us. There were many moving pieces in a complex closing and the team at Metis worked hard to pull it all together. Each step of the way they were communicative with us and the buyer, always keeping us informed and staying on top of each detail in a timely manner. We appreciated Metis’ deep knowledge of the niche wine and hospitality industry, as well as the integrity they showed working with us.”
-Steve and Jo Marie Hansen of Basel Cellars Estate
Owners Steve and Jo Marie Hansen have been partners in Basel Cellars since 2004 and sole owners since 2011. They helped transform a luxurious private residence into one of the most iconic winery and hospitality venues in eastern Washington. Basel Cellars Estate is perched atop a prominent hill in Walla Walla’s “Southside” winery district and is surrounded by its estate vineyards and features sweeping views of the Blue Mountains. The 83 Acre Estate is bordered on the north by the Walla Walla River and the south by Yellowhawk Creek and includes meticulously landscaped grounds, a 27-acre vineyard, a full scale winery capable of 20k case annual production, verdant pasture, and incomparable luxury accommodations. The property hosts thousands of guests annually at both the winery and the resort and serves as the ideal wine country venue to dozens of weddings, corporate retreats, and family gatherings each year.
After 17 years of developing and caring for one of Walla Walla’s most iconic destinations, the Hansens were ready to retire and turn over the reins to a new owner.
The sheer scale of the property and the substantial investment in the built environment required a buyer who not only appreciated the quality, but also possessed the skill necessary to execute a broader vision for the property that would make full use of the grandeur of the Estate. The unique combination of not just a working vineyard and winery on the property, but also a substantial hospitality operation made the property a complex operational challenge for a future owner. While there are individual robust markets for premier wineries, vineyards, and hospitality operations, there are far fewer investors interested in the combination of such businesses.
Adding additional complexity was the client’s need for absolute confidentiality during the entirety of the sale process to ensure continuity to the ongoing event and hospitality pipeline, staff stability, and to preserve the strength of the overall Basel Cellars Estate brand.
Leveraging METIS’ connections and deep understanding of the wine and hospitality industry, a diverse list of prospective buyers was assembled including wine industry strategics, hospitality operators, financial institutions, and high-net-worth individuals. Prospective buyers were approached and vetted discretely, with interest coming from a wide variety of buyer types.
Simultaneous to the marketing process, METIS advised the client through an entitlement process which would significantly enhance the economic and development potential of the property.
METIS worked with each of the interested parties to help them evaluate this investment opportunity. This involved a thorough analysis of Basel’s financial performance and future revenue opportunities. METIS also brought its extensive wine and hospitality experience to the process, helping prospective buyers understand the potential operational efficiencies, and the additional business and development potential of the property.
One of these parties METIS discretely approached was a restaurant and hospitably management and company. METIS initially proposed this group as the operating partner, alongside a separate financial investor that METIS would bring to the table. However, this management group was so impressed with Basel Cellars Estates, they committed to directly acquiring the brand, property, and assets.
Basel Cellars Estate was sold in its entirety to this new investor group led by business owners Dan Thiessen, Paul MacKay, and Philip Christofides of Walla Walla Steak Company and Crossbuck Brewing, as well as Chad Mackay, CEO, Fire & Vine Hospitality and Scott Clark, principal, Clark Property Development. Their extensive collective background in hospitality and food and beverage development will make them excellent stewards of Basel Cellars Estate and the legacy of Steve and Jo Marie. The property has been added to the growing portfolio of businesses affiliated with the Revelers’ Club loyalty program.
Employees of Basel Cellars have all been maintained and operations continue uninterrupted while the team finalizes plans for further development and expansion.