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Riboli drilling test water wells for possible Rabbit Ridge Winery Purchase

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Riboli Paso Robles, LLC.,  has expressed interest in buying the Rabbit Ridge Winery and its vineyards. The LLC, an entity formed by the owners of San Antonio Winery, Inc. for the purchase of real estate properties, is currently drilling test wells to see if they would move forward.

At issue are a 7,500-square foot house from which the Russells were evicted, a guesthouse, and about 100 acres of vineyard land. According to sources close to the family, the Russells have moved to Bradenton, FL where they are planning to start another, as-yet-undisclosed wine operation.

According to a declaration filed considered October 18 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California, Riboli has offered $9.1 million for the property and is conducting due diligence water well testing to determine if it will go forward.

“If the available quantity of water that is disclosed from the water drilling is not sufficient to meet our criteria (understanding that the Purchase Agreement permits our withdrawal prior to the end of Due Diligence for any reason in our sole discretion), we will not go forward with the Purchase because the Purchase Price will not be justified by the quantity of water that is available for the vineyard.”

The filing — to be considered by the court on October 25, — also stated that” “other contingencies apply presently, but must be removed within 5 business days after the final report for the last water well drilled ….”

The costs of drilling test wells are not being borne by Riboli, but by a private company under a speculative agreement in which the drilling company would be reimbursed if a sale takes place.

Bankruptcy Background

Court documents indicate that Codding’s company — Northern Holding — abruptly became Rabbit Ridge’s owner on or about Oct. 28, 2020, just as Farm Credit West was preparing to foreclose on the property.

That same day, winery founder and winemaker  Erich Russell signed quitclaim deeds transferring the properties Northern Holding. According to the court, those quitclaim deeds were recorded on the same day — as was Northern Holding’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

On June 15, 2021, the Chapter 11 was converted to Chapter 7 liquidation when (Free link) an attempt to sell the real estate assets failed. Northern Holding has previously been threatened by the court with liquidation because it failed to file the required asset, liability and other disclosure documents.

Previous Wine Industry Insight Articles on Rabbit Ridge