Doing food deals is a large part of David Carpenter’s vocation, and wine is a serious avocation for him.
Carpenter, the co-leader of the New York corporate and securities at Mayer Brown LLP, has done a considerable amount of work for Nestlé SA. In his spare time, he and his wife Diane have helped launch wine-focused streaming service SommTV and are starting a vineyard of their own in Sonoma County, Calif., as he describes in this week’s Drinks With The Deal podcast.
Carpenter began practicing at Mayer Brown in Chicago after graduating from DePaul University College of Law in 1987 and spent time in the firm’s London office before returning to Chicago, where he made partner. He became the general counsel at a client for several years, and on returning to the firm in 2001, he says, he went to Switzerland to visit lawyers at Nestlé for whom he had done work. They tapped him to handle a joint venture in South America and in 2002 hired him to advise on the $2.6 billion acquisition of Chef America Inc.
“After that transaction, the floodgates opened,” Carpenter said, and he and his firm have represented Nestlé on more than 20 deals since, including its $2.8 billion purchase of Aimmune Therapeutics Inc. last year as well as its purchase of the brazikumab drug from Allergan plc and its $4 billion sale of its U.S. ice cream business to Froneri International Ltd., a joint venture between Nestlé and PAI Partners SAS. Earlier this year, Mayer Brown advised Nestlé on its $4.3 billion agreement to sell its U.S. water business to One Rock Capital Partners LLC and Metropoulos & Co.
Carpenter has followed his wife’s passion for wine. After their children left the house, Diane Carpenter started studying the subject and worked several harvests for Paul Hobbs, an elite Sonoma winemaker. The Carpenters have an acre and a half of vineyard in Sonoma and last year produced a white Pinot Noir with winemaker Justin Seidenfeld. The couple has also helped launch SommTV, an online streaming service with content about wine and food that developed out of the SOMM movies about master sommeliers.
In New York, Carpenter said, his favorite place to drink wine is Aldo Sohm Wine Bar, a spot named for and run by one of the city’s best sommeliers. “The food is to die for there,” Carpenter said. “They serve tons of stuff by the glass in addition to by the bottle. That’s clearly a go-to spot in New York for someone who loves wine.”