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“ We couldn’t be more grateful for Erik McLaughlin and his team. Their caring and professional approach laid the table for a seamless process. From start to finish Erik and his team shepherded us through every aspect of our transaction and he was in daily contact with our buyers.


Erik’s deep understanding of the Pacific Northwest wine industry and the key players is second to none and ensured that we could move quickly and efficiently.”


-Bridgit & Steve Griessel, Betz Family Winery


Founded by Bob and Cathy Betz in 1997, Betz Family Winery is one of Washington's most celebrated wineries and one of the country’s leading producers of Bordeaux and Rhone varietal red wines. In 2011, Bob and Cathy sold the winery to Bridgit and Steve Griessel. Bob remained as patriarch, winemaker, and mentor until 2016 when longtime associate winemaker Louis Skinner was promoted to Winemaker and Bob remained as Consulting Winemaker. The Griessels remained dedicated to continuing the legacy of pristine winemaking that captured vineyard integrity that Betz wines were known for. The Griessels and their team continued to produce high-scoring, sought-after wines, grew their membership base, and expanded their wholesale footprint. 


Like Bob and Cathy before them, the Griessels were hands-on owners and understood the importance of their personal connections with customers. Brigit and Steve were active participants in all aspects of the business, including attending most consumer events, even as their other responsibilities required them to move out of the area. After 13 years of operating and growing Betz, the Griessels needed to turn their full attention toward their other businesses abroad and reluctantly decided it was time to sell their beloved winery.


The Griessels knew they were selling more than just a winery -- Betz had become one of Washinton State’s icons, a standard bearer of principled and artful winemaking. Given the deep personal relationships Betz and the Griessels had built with consumers, growers, and the trade made it was of paramount importance to find a buyer who understood the winery's position in the industry and was capable of being great steward.  Maintaining confidentiality within the close-knit Washington wine community was also critical.


METIS understood the Griessels’ priorities, knew the opportunity to acquire a winery as celebrated as Betz was rare, and believed the prospective buyer pool would be very specific. The METIS team carefully selected a very small group of buyers who they felt would honor the brand and build upon the Betz’s and Griessels’ legacy.  Particular focus was given to prospective buyers with roots in Washington. 


METIS works hard to understand each buyer’s strategic goals and obstacles and present them with offerings that align with their needs. METIS discretely contacted each prospective buyer individually to discuss how Betz could specifically fit their objectives. One of the companies METIS identified was the growing Seattle based beverage company Ackley Brands, led by Brandon Ackley. METIS has worked with Ackley for many years and understood how Betz was a particularly good fit at this specific time and that Ackley’s founders were personally fans and collectors of Betz Family wines.  Ackley Brands’ first acquisition in the beverage space was Montinore Estate, one of the largest biodynamic wineries in the United States, in 2016. Since then, they have invested in vineyards and created several wine brands. In 2023, they acquired Mac & Jacks Brewery.  Most recently, in early 2024, METIS brokered their acquisition of The Hogue Cellars and Columbia Winery from E&J Gallo winery.  The Hogue/Columbia acquisition was a huge step for Ackley, more than doubling the size of their company and dramatically increasing their production infrastructure. 


While still working on the Hogue/Columbia transaction, METIS CEO Erik McLaughlin approached Brandon Ackley with the Betz opportunity, believing Betz would simultaneously establish Ackley at the luxury end of the market and fit well into their soon to be acquired production capacity.  Brandon was flattered and excited, revealing that Betz had been a “dream” acquisition for them for a decade.


Within days the Ackley team submitted an offer which was quickly negotiated and accepted by the Griessels.  To maintain confidentiality and ensure the transition occurred before the next scheduled wine club release, both parties desired a very fast timeline.  METIS facilitated a thorough but fast Due Diligence process, meeting daily with both parties and their legal counsel, ultimately culminating in a transaction that closed on schedule.


Ackley Brands is thrilled to be the new steward of one of Washington’s most iconic brands.  Longtime winemaker Louis Skinner will remain with the company and looks forward to the additional production resources that will be available to him. Founder and longtime consulting winemaker Bob Betz will also continue as a consultant, providing his guidance and expertise to the Ackleys. The Griessels are gratified to have concluded their tenure as owners by handing Betz over to an experienced and well-resourced family-owned Washington business.

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