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It's No Joke: Comic Pat Paulsen to Sell Cloverdale Winery

August 31, 1988|DAN BERGER | Times Wine Writer

Perennial presidential candidate and comedian Pat Paulsen Tuesday signed escrow papers to sell the Cloverdale winery that bears his name to a Los Angeles-based investment consultant and an Oakland stockbroker, one of the buyers said.

Paulsen, a featured performer on the Smothers Brothers television show during the late 1960s and early 1970s, will be retained on a three-year personal services contract, with an option for three more years.

"Pat will be our vice president in charge of presidential affairs," quipped Mark Majestic of Palos Verdes, one of the buyers.

Neither side would reveal the sale price, but the northern Sonoma County property had been listed by a real estate agent at $3.7 million.

Majestic's partner in the deal is Neal Broidy of Transaction Securities Co. of Oakland. The property includes a winery building; a 3.25-acre tasting room site; the entire 55.2-acre village of Asti, including 20 acres of vineyards; a gas station; four houses, and a delicatessen.

Paulsen, the deadpan comedian who has been a presidential candidate for more than 20 years, was tracked down in Traverse City, Mich., where he is performing in a play.

Jokes About Campaign

"Yeah, I'm running for the White House again," he said. "Well, it's not a run, really; it's sort of a brisk walk. I've been on the campaign trail so long, some of my wine has turned to vinegar," he said.

Paulsen said Republican vice presidential candidate Dan Quayle has the support of the Boy Scouts, and he doesn't because "I don't need adult supervision."

While he is campaigning, Paulsen said, "people come up to me in bars and on street corners and they say to me, 'Hey, Paulsen, have you got any change?' It's tough campaigning, kissing hands and shaking babies."

"If the Republicans win (this fall) and they serve my wine at the White House, it'll be the first time Paulsen wine will have been served with Quayle. Actually, my wine was served at the White House twice. Reagan must have been asleep when he ordered it."

And what if the Democrats win the election?

Plans to Expand

"Well, then I'll never get my wine into the White House because I don't make retsina (resin-flavored Greek wine)."

Sale of the winery, Paulsen said, was prompted by the fact that he's been so busy performing in the past few years, especially in election years, and has had little time to promote his wine. Insiders said the sale was prompted by the divorce of Pat and Jane Paulsen. Majestic said the sale was forced because "debt service had become a problem."

Under his contract with Majestic and Broidy, Paulsen will do about 40 public appearances annually on behalf of the winery.

Majestic said he plans to expand the winery's production and that he has explored the possibility of adding other facilities at Asti, including an inn, a restaurant and other attractions.

George Litras, general manager of the winery, said the new owners had "very energetic plans for Asti. Once it is rezoned, (we envision) a full recreational concept here."

Litras said plans call for about 35,000 cases of Paulsen wine to be produced by 1990. "We hope to take full advantage of Pat's marketing ability," he said.

'The Perfect Property'

Paulsen bought vineyard land here in 1970 and sold grapes to other wineries. Paulsen's name on a wine first appeared as a vineyard designation on Sauvignon blancs produced by Chateau St. Jean Winery in the late 1970s. In 1980, Paulsen hired T. Jamie Meves as wine maker and began producing wine under his own label.

Majestic, who assists investors--especially from Japan--in finding business opportunities, called the Paulsen property "the best value anywhere in Napa or Sonoma. The whole place has got so much potential. It's just the perfect property."

He said he discovered the property while researching the wine industry for a Japanese client who wanted to buy a winery. The Japanese firm appeared ready to make an offer to buy Paulsen, but then backed out.

"But by then I had looked at the numbers and knew it was a good deal, so Broidy and I made an offer," Majestic said.

In the six years Paulsen wine has been on store shelves, Paulsen hasn't promoted the brand as actively as he might have liked. "Selling wine has been tough on us, and we got a little behind. But I'm staying there (with the winery) and we'll do more promotion than we did in the past."

Paulsen said he expects to be back this fall on the Smothers Brothers TV show. He also has made a humorous wine video, to be released soon.

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