Katherine Philippakis is chair of Farella’s Wine Industry Group. She works from both the firm’s St. Helena and San Francisco offices, and has a diverse real estate, corporate, and land use practice with a focus on the wine industry. In a sentence, Kay is a grape-to-glass wine practitioner who helps her clients buy, sell, develop, and operate California wineries and vineyards.
Kay advises a broad range of clients including privately and publicly owned wineries, vineyards, and other industry-related businesses. She represents clients in complex real estate and corporate transactions, including acquisitions and dispositions, development, financing, management, and leasing of winery and vineyard properties. Her practice extends to counseling clients through the various land use, environmental, and beverage alcohol regulatory and diligence issues presented by wine-related development projects. In addition to her winery practice, Kay also maintains a general land use practice focused on obtaining use permits and other entitlements for renewable energy, hospitality, commercial/industrial, and residential uses.
She is renowned for being an exceptionally good big-picture strategist, one who can appreciate and work with the major issues at 30,000 feet while also scrutinizing the details that really matter. She has particular expertise in counseling international clients who seek involvement in the California wine industry, as well as private equity companies who see a wine-related business as a potential investment vehicle. Kay is one of a handful of practitioners on every client’s shortlist in the Napa and Sonoma regions when it comes to the wine business.
While many of her matters are confidential, Kay has handled winery transactions valued in the hundreds of millions. She also assists cult, luxury, and premium wine brands with their efforts to protect or grow their businesses by acquiring or divesting assets (e.g., brands, vineyards, and production facilities), renegotiating with lenders, developing brands, and increasing debt or equity investments. With both land use and real estate expertise, she fully understands the deal implications of a winery’s entitlements, as well as understanding how real estate and title matters may constrain or magnify the land use potential of a property. The wine business is one of the most enticing of California industries, and Kay is a go-to person for both new and established vintners, growers, and wine-related businesses.
Kay serves as president of the Napa County Bar Association and is a member of the International Wine Lawyers Association (IWLA/AIDV). She served on the City of St. Helena Planning Commission for nine years, with five years as its chairman.
- Daily Journal, "Top Women Lawyers" in California (2015-2018, 2022)
- Best Lawyers in America, Real Estate Law (2018-2023)
- Best Lawyers of America, Lawyer of the Year Award (Santa Rosa) - Real Estate Law (2023)
- The Legal 500 United States, Recommended in Real Estate - Land Use/Zoning (2016, 2018-2019)
- Daily Journal, Top 25 Women Corporate and Transactional Lawyers (2011)
- North Bay Business Journal, Women in Business Award (2012)
Memberships and Affiliations
- President, Napa County Bar Association (2022)
- International Wine Lawyers Association (IWLA/AIDV)
- Former member and chairman, City of St. Helena Planning Commission