SA wine industry withers on the vine, with Barossa Valley Estate in receivership

SA wine industry withers on the vine, with Barossa Valley Estate in receivership
SA wine industry withers on the vine, with Barossa Valley Estate in receivership

The troubled wine sector continues to suffer, with the South Australia-based group Barossa Valley Estate and its 41-hectare vineyard now placed in receivership with reported debts of $20 million.

glut of grapes and lower export figures have caused trouble for Australian wine businesses, with businesses such as Casella Wines and Buller Wines recording financial trouble.

Barossa Valley Estate is one of 18 South Australian vineyards currently listed for sale on realcommercial.com.au.

The most notable listing is the Coonwarra Premium Vineyards Project No. 1 & 2 in the Coonawarra region, with a massive 309 hectares producing predominantly red wine grape varieties, including cabernet sauvignon, shiraz and merlot.

Other South Australian listing include Rayner Vineyard in McLaren Vale, with eight hectares of fruit-producing vineyards, Noble Road Vineyard in Waikerie, with 39 hectares of vineyards,  and the boutique winery Nicarel Estate in the Adelaide Hills, with 20 hectares of vineyards.

McGrathNicol has confirmed the grower-owned Barossa Valley Estate business has been placed in receivership as of January 15. The business continues to trade as the receivers, Sam Davies and Rob Kirman, conduct an “urgent assessment”.

Davies said in a statement he’ll be working with contract growers and management to settle 2013 grape requirements, including exports. He said while it’s too early to discuss causes, he noted the business was undercapitalised.

The business will soon be put up for sale, and McGrathNicol said in its statement the winery contains equipment to crush between 3,000 to 4,000 tonnes every year, with a 41-hectare vineyard along with a restaurant and function venue.

Barossa Valley Estate has a long history. The company began in 1984 after a group of grape farmers attempted to stick to growing shiraz vines, instead of chardonnay. In the 1990s, the group sold a 50% stake to beverage group Constellation, which eventually sold out in 2011. Full control reverted to the growing cooperative.

The collapse is yet another sign of the wine industry’s struggles, although Andre Eikmeier – who sold his wine site Vinomofo to Catch of the Day last year – says he’s surprised the industry has been as resilient as it has.

“The industry is actually remarkably robust, given the circumstances. There have been a lot fewer wineries folding than the environment might have dictated,” he says.

“There is really a sense that the supply and demand is balancing out.”

Some wine experts have suggested the wine glut is ending, which will in turn raise prices and provide smaller wineries with some relief.

More recently, Buller Wines in Victoria was placed in administration, while Casella Wines, the business behind one of Australia’s most successful wine exports, Yellow Tail, suffered a $30 million loss in 2011-12.

This article first appeared on SmartCompany.com.au.

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