Houlihan Lokey Advises Heitz Wine Cellars

Houlihan Lokey's Consumer, Food & Retail Group is pleased to announce that Heitz Wine Cellars has been acquired by Gaylon M. Lawrence Jr. The transaction closed on April 18, 2018.

Houlihan Lokey served as the exclusive financial advisor to Heitz Wine Cellars and assisted in structuring and negotiating the transaction on the company's behalf. This deal represents another landmark transaction for Houlihan Lokey in the wine industry.

Heitz Wine Cellars, one of Napa Valley's leading wineries, was established in 1961 when founders Joe and Alice Heitz purchased an eight-acre vineyard and small winery just south of St. Helena, California. Joe's hard work and pioneering style quickly established Heitz Wine Cellars' reputation as one of Napa Valley's most innovative and brilliant wine producers. After acquiring a 157-acre vineyard property in Spring Valley in 1964, Joe and Alice made a serendipitous and lifelong connection with Tom and Martha May, who owned a young vineyard in Oakville. In 1966, after a handshake deal, Joe crafted the first Martha's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon—a wine so remarkable that the two families decided to add a vineyard designation to the label, a first in Napa Valley. For over two decades, the family winery has been run by Joe and Alice's children, with their daughter, Kathleen Heitz Myers, serving as CEO and their son, David Heitz, serving as Winemaker.

Today, Heitz Wine Cellars' holdings encompass over 1,100 acres, with roughly 425 acres planted, across nine vineyards and five prestigious nested AVAs of the Napa Valley. The company also has three winery facilities and a stand-alone tasting room on Highway 29. Heitz produces and sells 10 premium wines, with its three spectacular vineyard-designated Cabernet Sauvignons—Martha's Vineyard, Trailside Vineyard, and the recently released Linda Falls Vineyard—as centerpieces of the winery's remarkable portfolio.

Gaylon M. Lawrence Jr. is the principal investor in The Lawrence Group, a 75-year-old farming operation, and serves on numerous boards. Gaylon and his family own companies in agriculture and banking as well as a stake in one of the largest privately owned HVAC distributorships, which is headquartered in California. Gaylon also owns seven community banks with 31 offices located in Northeast Arkansas, Southeast Missouri, and Tennessee.

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