$21 million for Justin Winery land

Total price Fiji Water paid for acquisition is not revealed as parties involved will not say

jlamb@thetribunenews.comApril 19, 2011 

When billionaire Stewart Resnick bought Justin Vineyards and Winery near Paso Robles in late 2010, the purchase made headlines far and wide: One of San Luis Obispo County’s most respected wineries had been sold to a water bottling company owned by a major player in California’s agriculture and water business.

The price went unmentioned because both parties refused to divulge how much money had changed hands.

But in one measure of the deal, The Tribune has learned the price paid for the 160-acre property.

According to the San Luis Obispo County Auditor-Controller’s Office, Resnick’s Fiji Water paid about $21 million for the winery and its properties.

The total sale price is still unknown; Justin Baldwin, the founder of Justin Vineyards & Winery, as well as a spokesman for Roll Global, Resnick’s holding company, would not comment on the sale.

Baldwin would say the total sale price was more than the $21 million paid for the land. He added, “I can’t contractually comment other than to say that this was not a real estate transaction.”

A wine industry analyst said any guess at the sale price would be shooting in the dark, even if the land sale price is known.

Vic Motto, CEO of Napa-based Global Wine Partners, an investment bank specializing in mergers and acquisitions, said, “I couldn’t venture a guess. It’s a very elusive thing — the price of a winery.” The land price and the actual sale price of the company are two separate matters, he said.

The value of land is fairly fixed and based on tangible things. The value of a company, its earning potential and reputation are entirely different, he added.

“I’m assuming it did demand a premium,” said Motto.

Rob Six, a spokesman for Roll Global, said the privately held company does not comment on business transactions.

Resnick’s Roll Global, according to Bloomberg News, is one of the nation’s largest growers of almonds, pistachios and pomegranates. The company also owns Pom Wonderful, Teleflora and Fiji Water Co. and other agricultural interests. Six said Resnick owns more than a 50 percent share in the Kern County Water Bank, a giant underground water storage project.

• • •

San Luis Obispo’s Boo Boo Records, a throwback to the days of thriving independent record stores, was honored last week by Rolling Stone magazine, which named Boo Boo one of the top 30 record stores in the nation.

The venerable music magazine’s distinction, noted on its website, came in conjunction with Record Store Day, the annual day of recognition for independent music stores. The magazine noted Boo Boo’s scholarly but friendly staff and “nuanced collection of CDs and vinyl,” which fare well when compared to much bigger stores.

Most of the other stores on the list came from big cities, including Chicago, Detroit, Boston, Seattle and New York. Boo Boo was just one of two stores from California. (The other was Amoeba Music, which has stores in San Francisco, Berkeley and Hollywood.)

Boo Boo Records was launched in 1974 when founders Ed Taylor, a former teacher, and Glenn Forbes, a former PacBell employee, invested $700 to pursue their business.

— Patrick S. Pemberton

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