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FBI Probes Elite Napa Valley Wineries: Subpoenas Target 40 Notable Figures, Including Former Dallas Cowboys Owner and Ex-us Ambassador


An investigation has been initiated by the FBI into the most renowned wineries in Napa Valley, with documents being subpoenaed concerning 40 prominent individuals. 

Craig Hall, a former part owner of the Dallas Cowboys, and his wife Kathryn Walt Hall, the former US ambassador to Austria, were listed in the legal papers, along with their winery, Hall Hundred Acre. 

Additional individuals mentioned in the documents include Dave Phinney, the entrepreneur behind the wine brand Prisoner, and Chuck Wagner, the proprietor of Caymus Vineyards.

The investigation’s purpose remains unclear, but numerous vintners and wineries mentioned in the subpoena have close connections to Napa County Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Pedroza has been involved in land controversies for a while now, and even though he hasn’t been officially accused, the Napa Valley Register mentioned that the subpoenas listed individuals and companies involved in the Atlas Peak land deal, including the supervisor’s father-in-law.  

The FBI was contacted by for further details on the federal investigation, but no response was provided. 

Following the investigation, Wagner expressed his frustration to the San Francisco Chronicle about being included in the list. 

I’m completely puzzled. Concerns were raised by Wagner about the county naming individuals unless he had done something wrong that he was unaware of. 

A subpoena was issued for a county representative to attend a federal grand jury in San Francisco on Wednesday and bring all relevant documents related to the individuals mentioned. 

Holly Dawson, the deputy county executive communications officer for Napa County, mentioned that the county is not aware of any additional information beyond what is in the subpoena.

Dawson mentioned that the county will supply the requested documents and that no one is anticipated to testify. 

Kathryn Hall mentioned being aware of an ongoing investigation but stated that she did not know the full extent or specifics, emphasizing the importance of not engaging in speculation. 

Kathryn and Craig are the proud owners of five certified organic wineries located in Helena and Rutherford, Napa Valley. No accusations of wrongdoing have been made against them. 

In 1984, Craig acquired an ownership stake in the Dallas Cowboys and later established the Hall Group, which includes a variety of businesses such as wineries, financial buildings, and art. 

Kathryn held the position of US Ambassador to Austria from 1997 to 2001 during Bill Clinton’s presidency, and has since pursued a career as an attorney.  

As per the winery’s website, the couple are described as ‘lifelong art collectors’ who delight in sharing their passion for art and wine with the world. 

Pedroza found himself entangled in a complicated land dispute concerning the Walt Ranch, which was supposed to be developed into a vineyard but the project fell through last year. 

In 2005, the Hall family acquired the Walt Ranch for $8 million with intentions to develop a vineyard on the property. 

In 2022, a resident named Beth Nelson discovered that Pedroza’s father-in-law had obtained a share in a property close to Walt Ranch. Pedroza supported the ranch project without revealing his father’s involvement. 

Some individuals have suggested that Pedroza and his family may have gained financially from the vineyard and expressed concerns that its location could increase the prices of neighboring properties. 

Esteban Llamas, the father-in-law, is named on the subpoena, along with Vinedos AP, LLC, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle. 

Pedroza, who is not identified in the subpoenas, stated to the Napa Valley Register: ‘I urge the county, as it always does, to cooperate fully with all other branches of federal and state government.’  “There is no reason here to do otherwise,” he emphasized. 

Grant Long, the proprietor of Revierie and Aonair in Helena, California, was also named in the subpoena and expressed that the news ‘came as quite a big surprise’ to him. 

Investigation Targets Political Donors: Subpoenas for Records Since 2016

WASHINGTON D.C, UNITED STATES – FEBRUARY 15: FBI and United States Secret Service officers raid the Venezuelan Ambassador’s Residence in Washington, DC, United States on February 15, 2024.

According to a report by The San Francisco Chronicle, Wagner, Phinney, and Hall have been identified as major contributors to Pedroza’s campaigns, having made significant donations. It’s not clear if this is connected to the investigation.

The requested documents in the subpoena consist of permits, plans, contracts, and correspondence dating back to January 1, 2016, which is when Pedroza was initially elected to Napa County’s Board of Supervisors. 

James Peter Read, a former business owner of the Grocery Outlet, and three of his other businesses were included in the subpoenas. 

Information uncovered shows that Read’s Circle R. Ranch, LLC has contributed a minimum of $9,900 to Pedroza’s political campaigns. 

Wine country has recently received three federal subpoenas, according to records. 

According to a report by the Napa Valley Register, the county received a subpoena for records related to its waste management services and new development at the Napa County Airport. 

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