Tuck Beckstoffer ordered to refund vineyard for private bills

A outstanding Napa Valley vintner has been ordered to pay $5.1 million in damages to a vineyard he as soon as owned, after his companions alleged in a lawsuit that he used firm funds to pay for private bills like personal jets, house renovations and luxurious vehicles.

Tuck Beckstoffer, son of the well-known grape grower Andy Beckstoffer, should additionally dissociate from the vineyard, that means he’ll surrender his 30% possession, in accordance with an arbitration settlement written by retired federal choose Elizabeth D. Laporte.

The vineyard, now referred to as Amulet Property, has beforehand been often called Tuck Beckstoffer Wines and Dancing Hares Winery. Beckstoffer was initially the only real proprietor of the enterprise, however in 2016 he introduced on companions from the agency Technology Capital, which loaned $19 million as a way to finance the acquisition of a ranch and a winery.

Beckstoffer, who declined to touch upon the file, drew a $450,000 yearly wage, court docket paperwork present. However in 2019, Matthew Cribbins — president of Technology Capital and a accomplice within the vineyard — found proof that Beckstoffer had been improperly utilizing the vineyard’s cash for private use, in accordance with the filings. (Cribbins and the opposite Amulet companions additionally declined to talk on the file.)

Court docket information element an extended listing of extravagant bills, equivalent to roughly $100,000 in landscaping at Beckstoffer’s house, $34,278 in inside design at his house, $165,980 on private journeys together with fly-fishing excursions, searching expeditions and gun exhibits, $39,000 on semiautomatic rifles and ammunition, and $59,003 on a household membership to luxurious resort Meadowood Napa Valley. 

The Amulet Estate wines sell for $85-$300 per bottle.

The Amulet Property wines promote for $85-$300 per bottle.

Courtesy Margaret Nissen

Beckstoffer spent $370,836 in vineyard funds, his companions alleged, “to rework a 1966 Ford pickup truck right into a ‘closely modified’ Baja racing automobile” with a 900-horsepower engine. Geoff Beattie, the Technology Capital CEO and one other vineyard accomplice, agreed to assist fund the venture, however claimed that Beckstoffer hid the scope of the expense. Finally, the vineyard offered the refurbished truck for $82,800, and now asks Beckstoffer to repay the lack of $288,036. 

Different allegations embrace that Beckstoffer made a take care of a personal jet firm through which he would offer $350,000 price of vineyard “services” in change for 35 hours of personal jet time. 

In some cases, court docket information counsel that Beckstoffer intentionally falsified paperwork to make it look as if private bills have been getting used for the vineyard. For instance, his companions say that Beckstoffer doctored invoices for a $45,560 safety gate to make it seem as if it have been being put in on the vineyard property, when it was really put in at his house.

The filings additionally allege that Beckstoffer stole greater than $200,000 price of property from the vineyard, together with a $60,000 John Deere tractor. His companions claimed that, when questioned concerning the whereabouts of the tractor, Beckstoffer “lied” and advised them that it had burned within the 2017 Atlas Hearth. “Mr. Beckstoffer later posted a photograph on Instagram of himself and his son using the tractor at his house with the caption ‘Sunday Funday.’ … When confronted with the picture, Mr. Beckstoffer returned the tractor,” the submitting reads.

Laporte, the choose, wrote that “Beckstoffer’s conduct was reprehensible and warrants punitive damages.” The opposite companions, she wrote, “proved that Mr. Beckstoffer misappropriated Vineyard funds and belongings persistently over the course of a number of years, typically via elaborate fraudulent schemes and at others via outright theft and simply disproven lies.”

Whereas Beckstoffer managed the vineyard, it averaged $4.7 million in annual working bills, in accordance with testimony cited within the filings by Nathaniel Dorn, Amulet’s COO. In 2022, its working bills are anticipated to be $1.8 million. 

Beckstoffer was fired in October 2020 from his place as supervisor and CEO for trigger, the arbitration settlement exhibits. That December, the vineyard introduced a reputation change from Tuck Beckstoffer Wines to Amulet Property. 

After the companions initially filed a lawsuit, which was then routed to arbitration, Beckstoffer filed counterclaims towards them. He ultimately deserted a few of these claims, and the remainder have been denied by the arbitrator.

The companions calculated Beckstoffer’s web price to be $8.3 million, which incorporates his fairness in Amulet Property. 

This isn’t the primary time that Beckstoffer has been embroiled in a authorized dispute with a enterprise accomplice. In 2011, Darrell Spence sued him in Los Angeles County Superior Court docket for breach of contract and fiduciary responsibility, fraud and different complaints. Spence mentioned that he had invested greater than $682,252 with Beckstoffer to begin new wine firms. Spence anticipated a share of the enterprise, in addition to reimbursement. In his lawsuit, Spence mentioned he by no means acquired any shares of the enterprise, nor reimbursement, and that Beckstoffer dissolved one of many firms, 75 Wine, and transferred the belongings to Tuck Beckstoffer Wines. Spence ultimately filed to dismiss his go well with.

The Amulet companions haven’t but decided what is going to occur to Beckstoffer’s 30% curiosity within the firm now that he’s been ordered to dissociate. The arbitration settlement is binding.

Esther Mobley is The San Francisco Chronicle’s senior wine critic. Electronic mail: emobley@sfchronicle.com

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