San Francisco firm buys Panther Creek, invests in DeLille

by | May 15, 2013 | News, Oregon wine, Washington wine, Wine | 0 comments

DeLille Cellars

DeLille Cellars in Woodinville, Wash., is getting a significant investment from Bacchus Capital Management in San Francisco. (Photo courtesy of Bacchus Capital Management)

SAN FRANCISCO – Bacchus Capital Management is making another big move into the Pacific Northwest, purchasing famed Panther Creek Cellars and appointing longtime Northwest winemaker Tony Rynders as its consulting winemaker.

The private equity firm also has invested in DeLille Cellars, one of Washington’s most respected wineries.

In early February, Bacchus made a big investment in Wine by Joe, a Dundee, Ore.,-based winery run by winemaking star Joe Dobbes.

“Bacchus is focused on supporting talented winemakers and on building family-owned wineries, enabling them to fulfill their potential,” said Sam Bronfman, Bacchus co-founder and managing partner. “We believe that the Pacific Northwest is an outstanding winemaking region, offering winemakers diverse environments to craft unique and admirable wines. We are proud to partner with individuals regarded both as pioneers and leaders in their field.”

Panther Creek started by Ken Wright

Panther Creek Cellars

Tony Rynders, longtime Oregon winemaker, is Panther Creek Cellars’ consulting winemaker

Panther Creek began in 1986 by Ken Wright, who lugged 10 barrels of California wine with him to get it started in McMinnville, Ore. Wright took on an investor in 1990, which later led to a legal battle over who owned the winery. Eventually, the winery was sold in 1994, and Wright launched Ken Wright Cellars.

During this time, Wright helped launch Domaine Serene, making its wine from 1990 to 1998, after which Rynders became winemaker for the Dundee winery. Now it has come full circle, with Rynders overseeing Panther Creek.

“I have been making wine in Oregon for nearly 20 years,” Rynders said. “This winery has a storied history, and I am eager to build on that legacy. The chance to be a part of Panther Creek’s next chapter and to work with a team of proven and committed professionals is an exciting opportunity.”

DeLille Cellars launched in 1992 in Woodinville

DeLille Cellars

Chris Upchurch is the longtime winemaker for DeLille Cellars in Woodinville, Wash.

Bacchus’ investment in DeLille will help the longtime Washington winery grow. It started in 1992 in Woodinville as the first Washington winery to focus on high-end Bordeaux-style blends. It was launched by Charles and Greg Lill, Jay Solof and winemaker Chris Upchurch.

“Our partnership with Bacchus provides DeLille Cellars with the financial backing and growth ability that we could not have accomplished on our own,” said Greg Lill, DeLille’s president and CEO. “Now, we are at the point where we need additional resources and proven expertise in order to take advantage together of the opportunities ahead.

Upchurch added: “Washington is a grand cru region that happened 10,000 years ago. It’s our responsibility to take that forward, to exploit the terroir and to make terrific wines. We are on the path of discovery to reach the potential of a great wine region and a great wine brand. With Bacchus as our partner, DeLille will be able to take advantage of many additional aspects of making and selling our wine for the future.”

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About Andy Perdue

Andy Perdue is founding partner of Great Northwest Wine LLC and a longtime wine columnist. He is a third-generation journalist who has worked at newspapers since the mid-1980s and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest magazine with Eric Degerman and served as its editor-in-chief for 15 years. He is the author of "The Northwest Wine Guide: A Buyer's Handbook" (Sasquatch, 2003) and has contributed to four other books.

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