John Kent Cooke Article

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John Kent Cooke Article

Postby Jake » Wed Jan 14, 2004 6:21 pm

I told you all about this yesterday. Here's the article about John Kent Cooke opening up his vineyard.

http://washingtontimes.com/business/200 ... -5914r.htm

Cooke vineyard, winery to open in Fauquier


By William Glanz
THE WASHINGTON TIMES




The former president and a minority owner of the Washington Redskins has kicked off a new career.
John Kent Cooke, 62, said yesterday he will start a vineyard and winery in Fauquier County, home to a small but growing number of winemakers.
Plans to open Boxwood Winery come 30 years after Mr. Cooke and his father, Jack Kent Cooke, first scoped out an area in California's San Joaquin Valley for a winery when the family lived there in the 1970s.
"The interest in wine goes way back. All these things are finally coming to pass," Mr. Cooke said.
Boxwood will maintain a small vineyard, with 18 acres of vines. Workers will plant the first vines in April.
The winery also will be modest, producing no more than 60,000 bottles each year. Mr. Cooke expects the first vintage to be available by 2007.
"Robert Mondavi doesn't have anything to worry about," said Mr. Cooke, who says he loves wine and has fewer than 100 bottles in his personal wine cellar.
The plan includes keeping Boxwood small and concentrating on "consistently putting out a very fine wine," he said. "It's a matter of executing the plan."
The vines are being propagated in California and will be planted here under the supervision of well-known vineyard expert Lucie Morton, who is based in Broad Run, Va., and has picked eight grapes to produce wines including cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot.
Mr. Cooke left the Washington area and moved to Bermuda after the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation sold the Redskins to Daniel Snyder for $800 million in 1999. Nearly $590 million from the sale went to the foundation. About $150 million went to pay off debt on Jack Kent Cooke Stadium. Mr. Cooke, who owned 10 percent of the football team, made $65 million on the transaction.
Since 2001, Mr. Cooke has split time between the Atlantic Ocean island and Boxwood, a 130-acre farm he bought that year.
He said he considered buying a vineyard and winery, but decided to start from scratch. Plans for Boxwood Winery have been in the works for 18 months.
"I look forward to Boxwood opening up. Competition is good," said Gerhard von Finck, the owner of Piedmont Vineyard and Winery, which sits just two miles from Mr. Cooke's farm.
"I think it's going to work out, but it's going to take time. In three years or four years, he's going to have his first nice crop," said Mr. von Finck, who has 20 acres of vineyards.
Mr. Cooke, who will be the sole owner of the new company, declined to say how much he will invest in Boxwood Winery.
"It's a sizeable investment, but it's one I'll gladly make," he said.
Mr. Cooke hired Georgetown architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen to design the winery's four buildings.
Richard Vine, a professor at Purdue University, will advise Boxwood on the layout of the buildings and on wine production.
Establishing a vineyard costs an average of $15,000 per acre, said Warren Howell, agriculture marketing manager for the economic development department in Loudoun County, which has 10 vineyards.
"It takes a fair amount of up-front investment, and the return is down the road," Mr. Howell said.
But it's not always a lucrative industry, grape growers warn.
"Certainly [Mr. Cooke] isn't doing it for the money. The old joke is how do you make a small fortune in the wine industry? You start with a large one. The people who do this do it because they love the land, the wine and the vine," said Tareq Salahi, the owner of Oasis Winery in Hume, Va.
Despite the warning, wineries are proliferating in Virginia. Oasis, which has 100 acres of vineyards, was just the fifth when it opened in 1977. Now there are 85 wineries in the state.
Mr. Cooke said he expects Boxwood will sell much of its wine to Washington-area restaurants.
While Mr. Cooke will oversee the business as its leading investor, Rachel Martin, Mr. Cooke's stepdaughter, will manage the winery and vineyard. Miss Martin is a student at Napa Valley College and will attend France's University of Bordeaux next year.
Boxwood Winery could employ up to six people
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