This Napa Valley Vineyard May Be up for Grabs Thanks to a ‘Succession’-Style Family Feud

Succession may be done playing out on our screens, but it seems the drama is just getting started for this family.

The Corleys have owned Napa Valley’s Monticello Vineyards for more than five decades, but now a feud is brewing among the family’s seven siblings, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Monday. Carolyn Corley, the only daughter of Jay Corley, who founded the winery, claims a group of her siblings is plotting to sell Monticello to an outside entity.

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“It’s where we grew up,” Carolyn told the Chronicle. “There’s so much potential and history there. I don’t want to sell.”

Carolyn believes her brothers Chris and Kevin agree with her and want to keep Monticello in the family. But she alleges her other siblings—Mark, Kent, Stephen, and Michael—are working to sell the winery and reap the monetary benefits. (Mark and Kent did not respond to the San Francisco Chronicle’s requests for comment, and Hugh Tietjen, the board director, declined to comment. But the newspaper reviewed documents that mentioned potentially selling the winery several times.)

Jay founded Monticello back in 1970, and it’s remained one of the few family-owned vineyards in Napa Valley. While it’s not a famous name in the world of wine, it’s notable for having stayed in the family at a time when other wineries have been sold to larger businesses, usually due to fights behind the scenes, the Chronicle noted.

In this case, after Jay died in 2016, four of the Corley brothers began to work toward a takeover, Carolyn claims. Kevin, who at one point served as both president and chairman, was given less power, and he hasn’t been involved in daily operations since 2022. Chris, meanwhile, resigned from the board in November.

“Over the last four decades, I have enthusiastically worked for and served Monticello in every department, and plan to do so going forward as long as I’m able,” Chris wrote in a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle. “I remain an absolute and enthusiastic supporter of the legacy that our father started with the founding of Monticello back in 1970.”

Mark, meanwhile, is now the president/chairman, and Kent is the corporate secretary. In November, Mark told some 100 shareholders that the board would look at potentially selling the business. And a March letter said the board had “started discussions with several parties who have expressed interest in acquiring the entire company,” according to documents viewed by the newspaper.

“The way they are fighting, it’s like a soap opera,” one shareholder told the Chronicle. “The best outcome is they should sell the company.”

At a shareholder meeting on Tuesday, there are plans to reelect the current board members and put in place a plan for Monticello’s future. That could very well mean offloading the winery, much to Carolyn’s chagrin.

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