“Not only did Erik and the team find us the right buyers, they helped structure a creative and relatively complex transaction and then guided us through an extremely thorough diligence process. I don’t think this deal would have gotten done without their relationships, expertise, and persistence.”
– Howard Rossbach, President, Firesteed Corporation
Firesteed Cellars was founded by Howard Rossbach in 1992. Firesteed was the first to coin the term “virtual winery”, purchasing fruit and custom crushing at Flynn Winery, before purchasing the facility in 2002 to establish Firesteed’s own production facility. In 2006 Firesteed established their Erratic Oaks Estate Vineyard. Firesteed Cellars is one of Oregon’s top 5 producers of Pinot Noir by volume and has earned innumerable awards and “Best Buy” designations over the years.
Flynn Vineyards was established in 1982 by the Flynn family, now owned by Mickey and Jeanne Flynn, who were wine-grape growing pioneers in the area now known as the “Van Duzer Corridor”, which is a pending new American Viticultural Area (AVA) within Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
After more than 40 years in the wine business and building one of Oregon’s most widely distributed brands, Howard Rossbach wanted to begin his estate planning process and refocus on his passion for the small production, ultra-premium offerings under his Citation label. He wanted to sell off the large production and broadly distributed Firesteed brand and winery. For estate planning purposes, the Flynn’s wanted to divest the 40-acre property upon which the Firesteed winery was build and the adjacent Flynn Vineyard.
The objective was to find a buyer who could align and utilize the combined physical assets of Firesteed and Flynn, had the strength in National distribution to continue to grow the Firesteed brand, and who would be agreeable to Rossbach’s continued involvement in the wine industry with the Citation brand and Erratic Oaks Vineyard.
Through the firm’s deep ties in the global wine industry, Metis identified several potential buyers before settling on a unique combination of two strategic buyers: Pacific Rim & Company (owned by Banfi Vintners) and Vintage Wine Estates, with each acquiring different aspects of the businesses. Pacific Rim & Company was looking for a new production facility for its growing brand Rainstorm Wines. While Vintage Wine Estates was seeking to add its first fine wine brand from Oregon to its extensive portfolio. Metis brokered and facilitated a deal that realigned assets and established a structure that would meet the varying needs of the two sellers and two buyers.
Howard Rossbach retained ownership of the ultra-premium Citation wine brand as well as Erratic Oaks Vineyard. Pacific Rim & Company purchased the Firesteed production facility and the adjacent Flynn Vineyard to provide a new home for Rainstorm Wines and serve as a custom crush facility. Vintage Wine Estates purchased the Firesteed brand and inventory and signed a production agreement with Pacific Rim & Company to continue to produce the Firesteed wines at the facility. Longtime Firesteed Winemaker Bryan Croft stayed on to oversee production. Vintage Wine Estates also secured long-term fruit supply contracts for Firesteed from both the Flynn Vineyard (via Pacific Rim & Company) and the Erratic Oaks Vineyard (via Howard Rossbach). Additionally, Vintage Wine Estates leased the on-site tasting room that will continue to operate as the tasting room for Firesteed. Mickey and Jeanne Flynn, who are retired and living in San Diego, were able to fully divest from the wine business.