The owners of Mill Valley Market, one of the 94941’s iconic businesses for nearly 90 years, have acquired Vintage Wine & Spirits, the downtown shop that’s been around for nearly as long, for an undisclosed sum.
Leland, who has owned the shop for 22 years and spent most of his career on the business side of the wine and spirits business, was searching for a succession plan for a business that dates back to when it began as Red Hill Liquors in the late 1930s. The bulk of those years were spent at 67 Throckmorton until Leland moved the shop across the street in 2014.
The acquisition is “an opportunity to ensure that Vintage Wine & Spirits remains independent, preserving the one-of-a-kind character of downtown Mill Valley, while also offering customers access to a portfolio of undiscovered, highly-sought after and allocated local and international wines, spirits and craft beers,” the Canepas said.
“Passing Vintage on to long-standing friends and fellow store owners ensures it will remain one of only two independent fine wine and spirit shops in southern Marin with origins dating back to shortly after Prohibition,” they added.
Vintage Wine & Spirits will remain in its current location at 82 Throckmorton with Richard Leland staying on-board through the transition. A 31-year veteran of the Mill Valley Market’s team, Mike Beeson, will assume the position of manager; Vintage Wine & Spirits current employees will be retained under the acquisition agreement.
Mill Valley Market wine and beer club members will receive selections from both locations, with the Canepas saying they also looking at future plans to host winemaker, distiller and brewer educational tastings and events at the Vintage location.
While there’s plenty of overlap between the pair’s respective inventories, the acquisition bolsters each. Vintage sources its wine from California, France and Italy as well as Germany, Hungary and Israel. It’s one of the only locations in the Bay Area to find bottles of allocated wines from Carlisle, Castalia and DuMol, in addition to collectible vintages from France’s Premier Cru, first growth producers and California’s Grand Cru vineyards. Vintage also boasts the largest selection of single malt scotch in Marin, as well as “undiscovered or under-the-radar bottlings” of trending spirits, bourbon, rye and tequila.
The Canepas say they plan to enhance the current inventory of wine and spirits with a selection of hard-to-get craft beers including limited edition, small production brews from local favorites like Russian River and HenHouse Brewing.
Mill Valley Market was founded on July 4, 1929 by Frank Canepa, whose eldest son Jim took it over in 1955. Jim Canepa bought a Russian River Valley vineyard in the late 1970s, bottling Canepa Cellars Chardonnay with winemaker Helen Turley at the helm. After the flood of 1986 washed out the vineyard source, Jim Canepa created the Mill Valley Market Farm in Glen Ellen, delivering “Farmer Jim’s” produce to the store daily, a tradition that continues today.
In 1980, Jim Canepa launched the first Mill Valley Wine, Beer & Gourmet Food Tasting in the Depot Plaza, a first of its kind and which continues today, with its 38th edition set for June 2, 2019. The annual sell-out festival, which raises money for Kiddo!, the Mill Valley Schools Community Foundation, and the Mill Valley Chamber, draws more than 65 premium wineries, 15 craft brewers, 30 specialty food purveyors and 10 local restaurants and chefs.
Jim Canepa sold the market to his sons, Doug and Dave Canepa in 1990, remaining active there until he passed away in 2007. Doug and Dave Canepa have worked at the market since childhood, attended local schools, raised their families in Mill Valley and continue to volunteer in the community, and their fourth generation family members, Ryan and Eugene Canepa, are market managers. Through their Shop & Give program (est. in 1994); the Canepa family has donated more than $1 million to local community organizations.