Johan Vineyards Acquired by Cowhorn Vineyard Ownership Group
Van Duzer Corridor AVA, OR, October 25, 2021 - A group of investors led by Katherine “Mini” Banks has acquired Johan Vineyards, a certified Organic and Biodynamic vineyard and winery located in the Van Duzer Corridor AVA in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The acquisition of Johan complements Mini Banks’ recent acquisition of Cowhorn Vineyard and Garden earlier this year and brings together two of the country’s most notable Biodynamic Vineyards under a single ownership group. METIS, the Northwest’s premiere wine industry M&A advisory firm was the sole transaction advisor.
Johan Vineyards is an expansive 175 acre site, operated as a holistic farm. 88 acres of certified Organic and Biodynamic vineyards are complimented by organic gardens, a growing animal husbandry program (chickens, ducks, and sheep), a beautiful pond, reserved native woodlands, and a winery and tasting room. Founded in 2005 by Dag Sundby, a native of Norway, Johan Vineyards received both Organic and Biodynamic certification in 2010 spearheaded by then winegrower Daniel Rinke (now at Art+Science Cider & Wine). In addition to producing ultra-premium 100% estate grown Biodynamic wines, Johan Vineyards sells fruit to some of the top wineries in the Willamette Valley. While the focus of Johan has been on Pinot Noir, Johan has also earned a reputation for excellent Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, and produces varietals unique in the Willamette Valley, including Cabernet Franc, Melon de Bourgogne, Gruner Veltliner, and Blaufrankisch, among others. Johan was recently honored by Wine & Spirits Magazine as one of the Top 100 Wineries of 2021.
Mini Banks, a resident of Jacksonville, Oregon, also recently acquired Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden in April of 2021. Cowhorn is a 117 acre certified Biodynamic vineyard and winery in southern Oregon, producing Rhone Style wines made with 100% estate grown fruit. As a native of Santa Barbara, Banks literally grew up in the wine business; her family has formerly been investors in some of California’s landmark wineries.
The acquisition brings together some of the most exciting, up-and-coming female winemakers in Oregon: Johan’s current winemaker Morgan Beck, Cowhorn’s newly appointed winemaker Sarah Thompson, and owner/winegrower Mini Banks. Morgan Beck, the Winemaker and General Manager at Johan, will remain with the new ownership and continue to oversee all operations. Morgan has been at Johan since 2015 and has extensive winemaking experience from California, Chile, and other parts of Oregon. Sarah Thompson, the newly appointed winemaker at Cowhorn, has a background in Biodynamic farming and winemaking having recently worked at Troon, another Biodynamic winery in the region. “Morgan and Sarah are both superstars…smart, diligent and each fully committed to their craft. It will be fun to see these two talented women working collaboratively to further enhance the winemaking at each site,” said Mini Banks.
“From my first meeting with both Mini and Sarah, I felt like we were old friends,” said Morgan Beck. “It’s amazing how similar our farming/winemaking philosophies are, as if we were already counterparts working toward a similar goal. It was clear from the beginning that we were all on the same wavelength, and I was so happy that Dag felt this way too.”
Johan Founder, Dag Sundby stated, “it was very important to us to find a buyer that would continue to honor our philosophy of winegrowing. Mini shares our vision and we are confident she will carry on the Johan legacy with a passionate commitment and holistic approach to farming and winemaking that is the foundation on which this vineyard and winery were built.”
Mini Banks will directly oversee both Cowhorn and Johan and plans to change very little at Johan. Rather, her approach is to give more tools to Morgan Beck and her team as they maintain their focus on sustainable farming and winemaking while also building up Johan’s Farm Share garden and enhancing experiences for guests on the property. “Dag’s done such an incredible job developing this property with vision, intention, and principle, and we look forward to honoring and building upon that legacy,” said Mini. “Dag assembled an exceptional winemaking and viticultural team, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to support Morgan and the rest of the wonderful people at Johan. It’s just so cool to be able to start working with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and the other varietals grown at Johan which will complement and enhance the biodynamic Rhone varietals at Cowhorn perfectly.”
“This was a really fun deal,” said METIS CEO, Erik McLaughlin, of the transaction. “We knew Dag’s deep conviction to his farming philosophy and the importance to him that a new owner share his commitment and vision. We got to know Mini after she acquired Cowhorn. The more we talked with her the more we knew that not only was Johan right for her, but that she would be an ideal steward for Johan’s future.”
“Personally, I feel truly blessed to have had the opportunity to play a small part in the Oregon wine industry for the past 17 vintages,” said Dag Sundby, founder of Johan. “I am also grateful to be able to exit the industry with a sense of accomplishment. The support from my peers in the wine community has been second to none.”
Mini Banks concluded, “people that love Cowhorn will love Johan, and people that love Johan will love Cowhorn.”
About Johan Vineyards
Founded in 2005 by Dag Sundby, a native of Norway, Johan operates as a grower of Organic and Biodynamic grapes for some of Oregon’s most highly regarded wineries. Johan Vineyards resides on 175 acres of gently sloping hills, with 88 acres of planted vineyards. The site includes a tasting room with sweeping views of the Willamette Valley and a winery that has historically produced 6,500 cases of wine per year. Wines produced under the Johan label are made with 100% estate fruit. Johan has received Organic Certification from Stellar Certification Services and Biodynamic Certification from Demeter USA. For more information on Johan, please visit: https://www.johanvineyards.com.
About Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden
Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden, located in Applegate County of Southern Oregon, is a 117-acre Demeter-certified Biodynamic perennial polyculture property with an onsite winery and the world’s first tasting room to receive Living Building Certification, the world’s most progressive and rigorous standard for green building. The Rhône Style wines are made with 100% estate fruit from 25 planted acres, receiving more than 100 90+ scores over the years. In addition to the vineyards, Cowhorn has land dedicated to the cultivation of lavender, asparagus, and hazelnut trees that are inoculated with the Périgord black truffle. For more information on Cowhorn, please visit: www.cowhornwine.com.
METIS is the premier mergers and acquisitions advisory firm in the Pacific Northwest focused on the global adult beverage and hospitality industries. METIS (and its antecedent company) have been advising privately-held businesses on capital transactions, including mergers, acquisitions, divestitures and recapitalizations for over 30 years. For more information about Metis, please visit www.metisnw.com.
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