February 4, 2008
Change of Plans

Charles B. Mitchell isn't giving up on the wine and food potential of southwestern El Dorado County after all. Two weeks ago I reported here that Mitchell, who'd been instrumental in developing the stature of the Fair Play appellation, was selling the second of his two wineries in the area, Winery by the Creek, and its neighboring restaurant, Fair Play Bistro, to Michael Conti.

Both Mitchell and Conti agreed that the deal was as good as done. Conti already had purchased Mitchell's original winery, now known as Conti Estate/Charles B. Mitchell Vineyards. That will remain in Conti's hands, but Mitchell will continue to hang on to Winery by the Creek and Fair Play Bistro, currently closed.

Mitchell says Conti apparently had second thoughts about investing more enthusiastically in the area and told him he no longer was interested in buying the second winery and the bistro. Conti says he withdrew his offers for the properties for "personal reasons" and declined further comment.

Mitchell isn't interested in resuming a hands-on role at the two sites. He says he's seeking a manager to run Winery by the Creek and an operator to reopen the bistro, which he hopes to see again running this spring.

In the meantime, he's planning a blowout of his wine inventory at both the restaurant and the winery over President's Day weekend, Feb. 16-18. He has some 200 cases of wine at the restaurant that he will sell for a flat $7.50 per bottle from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. He'll also be serving food. At the winery just across the creek from the restaurant he'll also be selling his stock for $7.50 a bottle during the same hours.

People who frequented Fair Play Bistro will recall that its wine list included some Chateau Lafite. Mitchell, however, is keeping that for himself.

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