Chevron Unit to Buy Land in Wine Country

Times Staff Writer

A subsidiary of Chevron Corp will acquire Gauer Ranch, a 5,500-acre property in northern Sonoma County that includes 500 acres of top-quality vineyard land.

A spokesman for Chevron confirmed that it acquired the land in a complex deal estimated to be worth $35 million.

The buyer of the property is Huntington Beach Co., which holds and operates raw land for Chevron, mostly in Southern and Central California. Chevron owns substantial agricultural acreage in the San Joaquin Valley; this is the company’s first foray into North Coast wine country.

Included in the sale is the Gauer Estate Winery, formerly called Vinwood Cellars. Wine under the Gauer Estate Vineyard brand will be released in the spring. Seller Ed Gauer retains ownership of the brand under the agreement.


‘Long-Term Value’

A spokesman for Chevron said the company had no plans to develop a new wine brand.

Craig Rice, manager of planning and analysis for Chevron Land & Development in San Francisco, said the company plans to expand the vineyards and may develop other land further.

“We’re . . . buying the property for its long-term value, and we plan to develop between 600 and 1,000 acres of vineyard,” Rice said.


There have been rumors the company would add more than 100 upscale homes on land that cannot be used for vineyards, but Rice said Chevron has “no specific plan” in that regard. “Before we have a chance to talk with the county, we’re not in a position to discuss” such development, he said.

The property was not formally listed with a real estate broker, but 85-year-old Gauer, the crusty founder and former chairman of the Roos-Atkins clothing chain, had long made it known that he would sell the property for the right price.

Gauer sold the 51-store Roos-Atkins chain in 1965 for $16.5 million and retired to the sprawling, hillside ranch outside Healdsburg that provides $2 million a year in revenue from five sources--wine grapes, cattle, firewood, spring water and shale.

Allen Hemphill, former president of Chateau St. Jean Winery who joined Gauer in April, 1987, said he has been asked to remain as president of Gauer Estate.