Bill Foley and I have a lot in common
I’ve known Bill Foley for quite awhile – not personally, but did talk to him and his people in another lifetime ago regarding marketing his food empire. Also, I know of him through my connections with the automotive world because he also owns a giant manufacturer of auto parts (Remy, formerly Delco-Remy). He is the man behind billion-dollar companies including Fidelity National Financial (which includes the largest title insurance company in the U.S.) and with the help of those finances, Foley’s personal wealth rose substantially. In-turn, he’s been focused on vino, which once again caught my attention when he bought several wineries over the last handful of years.
His full name is William P Foley II and the billionaire-to-be’s wine empire is becoming extensive. The mogul didn’t start off in the wine business doing very well but recently, has caught on and is now a powerful player in the world of wines.
New wine mogul
Bill Foley essentially started buying wineries in Santa Barbara and worked his way up the coast. He now owns wineries all over the world and amongst others here on the Central Coast of California, he purchased Firestone Vineyards. Foley also bought EOS, which had been a favorite of our family for many years. They moved the location of EOS to a new facility at Firestone down 46 East nearer to Paso Robles. Our connection to EOS goes back to when the Arciero Brothers owned it. The racing relationship combined with a great park-like setting and formidable winery hooked us. Now Broken Earth owns the grounds with former Indy racecar owner Gerald Forsythe at the helm. By the way, Bill missed out on this incredible location and facility.
In any case, Foley’s viticultural business holdings (Foley Family Wines) have blossomed this past decade. His style is to acquire undervalued properties that have underperformed, struggled or are just plain in bankruptcy. He tries to be vertically integrated meaning he wants all levels under his control, from the vineyard, to the wine-making facilities and distributor (he owns a wholesaler/importer); plus, he can also sell the wines to his other restaurant holdings. I could go on about his business acumen, but to say the least, Bill Foley is doing well for himself in his relatively new venture.
Stunning tasting room
An interesting item that really caught my attention was Foley’s latest tasting room off of Chalk Hill Road near Healdsburg in Sonoma County (Russian River Valley). The Roth Estate Winery combines a portion of the barrel storage facility with the tasting room, bringing a modern look, using wood as its primary focus. The experience should be worth the tasting fee of $15.
Now we at Paso Wine Barrels certainly are partial and accustom to wine barrels as a unique and bold appearance for any room. Envious of anything to do with barrels, this take is quite stunning. The floor is done in white oak, which of course is what every wine barrel is made of. Oh, and magnificently standing in the tasting room is a large table made of a fallen 400 year old tree. In a nutshell, it’s striking and very handsome. This new part of the VIP tasting room opens in the spring of 2015 and should be everyone’s list of must sees.
It all ties in
Except for the fact I buy insurance, otherwise Mr. Foley and I have much in common. As far as automotive is concerned, I spent the first two decades of my working life heavily involved in auto parts industry. I was in negotiations with Remy at one time for a sponsorship. Since he bought my favorite winery at the time, EOS, in which I knew the former and current owners (who were racecar owners), it’s kind of a relationship by symbiosis. My partner and father Ron, has been associated with the racing world almost all his life. Hey, and let’s face it, wine barrels, and therefore wine go hand-in-hand. Finally, wine barrels are our middle name and he owns a lot of them and did wonders with his barrel storage area turned into tasting room. See how that perfectly ties in? 😉
In any case, I’d advise keeping tabs on Mr. William P Foley II. His trend is always up and this wine thing of his is only getting bigger … and better. Plus, he has a lot in common with me.
Daryle W. Hier