Weyrich could lose prized properties

North County businessman faces slew of foreclosures

mcleveland@thetribunenews.comNovember 13, 2009 

David Weyrich — one of the most prominent businessmen in the county — is facing foreclosure on several gems of his enterprises, including the Paso Robles winery bearing his name and the luxury inn Villa Toscana.

If he cannot produce about $20 million by next week, his creditors will hold a public auction on the San Luis Obispo courthouse steps Friday of all entities under his Martin and Weyrich Winery LLC.

This includes Martin and Weyrich Winery and more than 250 acres of vineyards; Villa Toscana, the luxury bed-and-breakfast inn nestled in the Martin and Weyrich vineyards on Paso Robles’ eastside; two tasting rooms; the York Mountain Winery and vineyards in Templeton; and the Jack Ranch Vineyard in Edna Valley, according to notices of trustee’s sales filed with San Luis Obispo County.

Weyrich also owes another $6 million to creditors. A notice of default has been filed on his 7,700-square-foot home and 278 acres, including vineyards, in Paso Robles to recoup that debt as well, according to the filings. Weyrich has the property for sale listed at $9.5 million, according to a real estate Web site.

The $26 million makes for a total of more than $48 million worth of cash or collateral that Weyrich is being forced to pay his creditors within the year.

In the spring, Minneapolis-based Wells Fargo Equipment Finance and Superior, Colo.-based Key Equipment Finance won a suit against Weyrich, claiming he owed them more than $22 million. As a result, they have been allowed to seize all four of Weyrich’s jets that were part of his now-collapsed North American Jet Charter business and collateral for loans from those firms, according to court records.

Key Equipment was awarded a second judgment this month because it claimed the collateral did not have the expected value. Consequently, Weyrich’s jet company is required to pay $10 million to the lender; Weyrich was ordered to pay $11.8 million out of his personal assets; and his Martin and Weyrich Winery was ordered to pay $1.8 million.

Martin and Weyrich Winery, established in 1981, produced around 80,000 cases of wine last year, according to winemaker Craig Smith. It was ranked among the county’s eight largest producers by The Tribune in the 2008 Book of Lists.

York Mountain Winery, established in 1882, is the oldest continuously operating winery in the county. It has about 100 acres of vineyards under cultivation off Highway 46 West in Templeton and produces about 5,000 cases a year.

Weyrich’s Jack Ranch Vineyard is a 294-acre property, with 146 acres of planted grapevines, located near the San Luis Obispo Country Club Estates in Edna Valley. Weyrich has been trying to sell that property for about $11 million, according to the Templeton-based Home and Ranch Realtors Web site.

Weyrich is also facing heavy tax liens.

In state taxes alone, he owes as an individual at least $464,000; his Carlton Hotel in Atascadero owes about $13,043; Martin and Weyrich Winery, more than $12,000; Weyrich Development, $63,246.

He also owes more than $12,000 to the county in hotel bed taxes from the Villa Toscana. In addition, Martin and Weyrich LLC is facing a state Board of Equalization tax lien for $43,132 and federal tax liens of at least $288,312, according to filings recorded with the county.

With holdings in wineries, hotels and thousands of acres of North County real estate, Weyrich is a major player in the county.

In 1998, Weyrich and his partners sold a national billboard business for a reported $610 million, and Weyrich invested much of his share in real estate and tourism-related businesses.

“In the stock market, you have no control over where (the money) is going,” he told The Tribune in 2002. “I invested it in real estate or things I’m working on that I have control over. There you weigh the risk, and you’re driving the car.”

His current holdings also include about 500 acres of Santa Ysabel Ranch in Templeton, an estimated 1,800 acres in the Nacimiento Lake area and the Carlton Hotel in Atascadero.

For a time, Weyrich founded and owned the now-defunct local chain of Gazette community newspapers, which he later sold.

Weyrich and several family members did not respond this week to repeated requests for comment.

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