Chinese Rice Company Defaults On A $14.75 Million Vineyard In Sonoma

bellisimo vineyard

Photo: Bing Maps

After failing to make good on some $8.5 million in loans, a Chinese rice company has defaulted on the Sonoma County vineyard it purchased three years ago for $14.75 million, according to the Press Democrat.The lender, Transamerica Life Insurance Co., kicked off foreclosure proceedings on the 153-acre property, called Bellisimo Vineyards, in September.

The Chinese company, China Organic Agriculture, is not the first local owner to go under, the Press Democrat said, noting that 17 other vineyards in Sonoma County have defaulted on loans since the beginning of 2011.

But the default was notable considering that, in general, Chinese investors have done well in the region.

According to the North Bay Business Journal:

Default and receivership actions surprised some wine industry mergers-and-acquisitions experts who have been working with a new wave of foreign investors, including a number based in China.

“I’ve never heard of a Chinese investment company having problems in this area,” said Mario Zepponi of Zepponi & Company in Santa Rosa.

For example, Goldin Financial Holdings, a Hong Kong-based publicly traded company, purchased the 40-acre Sloan Family Winery property in Rutherford on June 10 for $40 million and announced plans to build a $30 million wine distribution centre in China. Zhang’s Winery Inc. acquired the 40-plus-acre Lupine Hill Vineyard in Napa Valley in April for $3 million.

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