American Farmer Profile: Strongwater
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This article was edited to meet broker-dealer compliance guidelines in May of 2023.
For many, the American farmer may conjure a specific image, perhaps informed by stereotypes—overalls, pitchfork, muddy boots. That image certainly isn’t wrong, but it is incomplete.
Who is the American farmer? Every conversation we have with a farm operator drives home the fact that they’re a vast and varied group with diverse backgrounds and characteristics. The common thread? Expertise, a deep love for farming, and a driving spirit of entrepreneurship.
The farmers we work with possess profound expertise, and not just in agriculture, but many adjacent industries like water rights, ecology, forestry, sustainability, ag finance, and more. And they are all driven to grow, innovate, and contribute to their industries and communities.
Every farm offering that appears on our platform represents an individual farmer or a farming team, business, or family. To give our investors and potential farming partners a sense of who is working the land that appears on AcreTrader, we are profiling a few of our existing partners, whom we call Farm Sponsors. Our first profile is of Strongwater Viticultural Investments.
Meet the Strongwater Team
Strongwater Viticultural Investments is a partnership of three leaders in California’s Central Coast wine industry: Anthony Bozzano, Andrew Jones, and Michael Testa, who have over 55 years of combined expertise in wine, including grapevine nursery sales, winemaking, and vineyard management.
Anthony Bozzano is, among other things, a sales expert. He owns and operates Bozzano & Company, which specializes in sourcing and selling bulk wine, wine grapes, and custom wine brands. Anthony previously managed bulk wine sales and private label product development for the Miller family, a fifth generation farming family with properties throughout Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties.
Born and raised in a diversified farming family in Stockton, California, Anthony graduated from Cal Poly, SLO, where he majored in agricultural business with a minor in viticulture. He is a member of Class 43 of the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation, as well as the current Regional Director of the CALF Alumni Council.
“We wouldn’t be where we are today without AcreTrader. We’ve had properties that have been real golden opportunities that we haven’t been able to find partners or financing on.” —Anthony Bozzano
Andrew Jones is a longtime winemaker. As VP of Sales for Sunridge Nurseries, a premier grapevine nursery, he manages a team of field representatives that oversee the sales of 12-16 million grapevines every year. He is also the maker of several notable wine brands: Field Recordings, and Fableist Wine Co., both based in the Paso Robles AVA, as well as Alloy, Wonderall, Barter & Trade, and Neverland.
In 2015, Andrew was named to America’s Top 40 under 40 Tastemakers by the Wine Enthusiast. He is a graduate of Cal Poly, SLO with a degree in agricultural business and a concentration in viticulture.
"Winemaker Andrew Jones has a keen eye for diamonds in the rough: sites that are unknown or under-appreciated but hold enormous untapped potential. He strives for unique wines loaded with personality and a one-of-a-kind experience.” —Field Recordings website
Michael Testa is the farming expert of the team. He is a partner and the General Manager of Coastal Vineyard Care Associates, a premier vineyard management company in its 40th year of business. Prior to CVCA, Mike worked in several vineyard management and grower relations roles for the well-known E&J Gallo Winery.
"We know what we’re doing. We are the operators, and we’re going to make sure that the margins are as healthy as they can be, by controlling our costs, being very involved in our business, being very involved in our assets, and ultimately, being the one that is completely accountable for all activities happening on the property.” —Michael Testa
Mike serves on the Board of Directors for the California Association of Winegrape Growers, recently completing a two-year term as Chairman. He graduated from Cal Poly, SLO with a degree in wine business management, earned his MBA from Arizona State University, and is a member of the Class 42 of the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation.
Strongwater and AcreTrader
One of Strongwater’s greatest combined strengths is their local knowledge of California’s growing regions and markets. Their network stretches across the state, enabling them to find standout investment opportunities with special significance in the wine world.
Le Bon Climat Vineyard
Strongwater’s first offering with AcreTrader was Le Bon Climat Vineyard in March 2022. Le Bon Climat is located in Santa Barbara County along the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail.
In partnership with AcreTrader investors, Strongwater is replanting the vineyard to primarily sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, and pinot noir grapes, three varieties that command a price premium in this region.
The property was previously the estate vineyard of the late Jim Clendenen, a towering figure in California’s wine industry. Clenendon established Santa Barbara County as a winemaking hub in the 1980s and 90s. Over the years, grapes grown on Le Bon Climat have produced many award-winning wines.
Templeton Preserve Vineyard
AcreTrader’s second partnership with Strongwater is Templeton Preserve Vineyard, located within the fast-growing Paso Robles wine region. Strongwater team member Andrew Jones has a deep existing relationship with the property: he and his winemaking team produce the Fableist label in the winery on site.
Like Le Bon Climat, Templeton Preserve has a prestigious history in the wine industry and is the site of front-line sustainability efforts.
It was previously the family estate vineyard of the Merrills, a generational winemaking family who helped establish the Central Coast Vineyard Team, whose mission is to “identify and promote the most environmentally safe, viticulturally and economically sustainable farming methods, while maintaining or improving quality and flavor of wine grapes, as well as modeling and promoting the public trust of stewardship for natural resources.”
The vineyard is SIP (Sustainability In Practice) certified, a third-party standard that ensures vineyards are producing in a way that protects both natural and human resources.
Wanting to honor the property’s history while also celebrating the new beginning represented by this investment, the Strongwater team themselves chose the vineyard’s name.
“Templeton Preserve gets its name from its long history as the core of the El Pomar District in east Templeton. It was the first vineyard in that neighborhood to be thought of as a reliable source for high-quality grapes. It also lies at the epicenter of the sub-appellation on a perch overlooking some of the biggest names in Paso: Over the past few years, Templeton Preserve has been surrounded by new vineyards for J. Lohr, Justin, Gallo, and San Antonio,” says Andrew Jones.
“For years, this vineyard was a core element of Wild Horse Merlot, one of Paso's most widely distributed and acclaimed wines until merlot sales faded in the early 2000s. The property was also used as a test plot for Wild Horse's founder Ken Volk's test varieties. We have small blocks behind the winery building of Aglianico, Verdelho, Blaufränkisch, and Touriga that were unheard of at the time of development.
“Strongwater feels that this project is an opportunity to own and uphold one of the marquee properties in one of Paso's highest quality sub AVAs.”
Farmers are core to what we do here at AcreTrader. It’s a privilege for our team to be able to talk to farmers across the United States and the globe, hearing about their perspectives, needs, and aspirations firsthand.
We’re committed to developing relationships with farmers based on transparency and mutual interest with the investors who use AcreTrader. We’re proud to be able to work with elite teams like Strongwater to source exciting investments and support their business growth.
If you are a farmer looking to expand your operation, learn more about how we work with farmers and get in touch.
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Private investments are unregistered securities and subject to certain limitations and restrictions. There is no assurance any fund will meet its objectives. Investments are illiquid, not listed on an exchange, and not a short-term investment. Distributions are not guaranteed. Offering represents interest in a newly formed entity. Changes in tax law may adversely affect offerings. The Offering relies on key management personnel whose absence or loss will materially impact the investment.
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