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Wine Industry Insight
“Chalk Hill is not for sale, has not been for sale and will not be for sale!” — Fred Furth
Famed Plaintiff’s Attorney Fred Furth, who co-owns Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards& Winery with his former wife Peggy, said that talk of selling the winery, or of a large scale divestiture of vineyards and other real estate “is not true.”
“We’re selling about 40 acres of vineyards that are not contiguous with the estate,” Furth said. “We don’t need them; they’re expensive to farm.”
Furth and his wife who are in the midst of divorce proceedings, live in separate houses on the 1,400-acre estate while they attempt to reach a final settlement. At issue is Fred Furth’s net worth which has been estimated by lawyers on opposite sides of the divorce at between $300 and $600 million.
In 2005, Furth’s law firm won a landmark $172 million jury verdict against Wal-Mart, on behalf of the giant discounter’s employees. The judge awarded Furth $66 million in attorneys fees. The payments however, are still tangled in subsequent litigation.
Taxes Current, No Cash Crisis
Contrary to information emailed to Wine Industry Insight by several sources, Furth vehemently denied that the winery had a cash crisis, or was forced into a sale by IRS demands for additional taxes on previous asset sales.
Furth said that allegations circulating that up to 900 acres of land were being sold to solve a cash crisis or to pay off taxes are “incorrect and libelous.”
A second source stressed that the properties being prepared for sale, “are not part of the winery’s core properties and can be disposed of without affecting Chalk Hills wine operation. It’s going to be a financially sounder operation when all is said and done.”
A third source stressed that she “couldn’t imagine there being enough money on the planet to motivate Peggy to sell the winery.”