SA wine identity buys Australian Vintage vineyard as chairman departs

South Australian wine mogul Warren Randall’s Seppeltsfield has acquired a 230-acre vineyard in the Barossa Valley from Australian Vintage, which today announced its chairman is departing after 15 years.

Jul 11, 2024, updated Jul 11, 2024
Seppeltsfield has acquired a 230 acre Lyndoch vineyard from listed wine business Australian Vintage. Photo: Supplied.

Seppeltsfield has acquired a 230 acre Lyndoch vineyard from listed wine business Australian Vintage. Photo: Supplied.

Randall Wine Group chairman and proprietor Warren Randall hopes his acquisition of a Lyndoch vineyard from embattled Australian Vintage will bolster Seppeltsfield’s re-entry plans into China’s luxury market.

Speaking to InDaily, Randall said the deal came at an opportune time for his company which has been satisfying Chinese demand for Australian luxury wines following the lifting of punitive tariffs in March.

The purchase comes as Australian Vintage – a Cowandilla-based firm that owns wine brands such as Nepenthe, Tempus Two, McGuigan and Barossa Valley Wine Co – today announced its chairman was departing.

In a statement to shareholders, Australian Vintage said chairman Richard Davis tendered his resignation from the board, effective today, after 15 years of service.

Non-executive director John Davies will serve as chair as the company searches for a new chair.

“On behalf of the entire board and executive committee, I would like to thank Richard for his dedication and service to the company over more than 15 years,” Australian Vintage acting CEO Peter Perrin said.

“He has made an invaluable contribution and will be missed.”

Davis’ resignation was flagged in June, alongside the announcement of a $20 million equity raise and a trading update with the company revealing its sales will be in line with last year’s but “lower than internal expectations”.

The company raised funds for the purpose of liquidity and financial flexibility amid “challenging industry conditions” and “volatile conditions” in the global wine market.

It is also struggling with rising levels of debt. Previously, the company said its net debt would blow out at 30 June from $45-50 million to now $70-75 million.

Overall sales to 30 June 2024 are expected to be in the range of $257-261 million.

Australian Vintage’s woes have opened up opportunities for Seppeltsfield, said Randall.

“It’s been pretty well documented: Australian Vintage’s desire to reduce their debt,” Randall said.

“It is a prize asset and an asset that I just couldn’t resist with China opening. A large vineyard with mature vines on it is just perfect from Seppeltsfield’s point of view.”

The Lyndoch vineyard spans 230 acres, and was previously part of the original Chateau Yaldara property which was developed by German vintner Hermann Thumm.

The vineyard is planted with varietals including shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, mataro and grenache.

Seppeltsfield said the entire crop will be crushed through its 1888 Gravity Flow winery in 2025.

Photo: Supplied.

InDaily in your inbox. The best local news every workday at lunch time.
By signing up, you agree to our User Agreement andPrivacy Policy & Cookie Statement. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Randall said he wanted the vineyard to bolster his company’s production of luxury wines specifically to be sold in China.

Speaking to InDaily, Randall said that when the tariffs fell away in March, the gates didn’t just creak open, “they’ve flung open with desire for Australian wine”.

“The gates have almost flown off their hinges in terms of demand and desire,” Randall said.

“There’s still strong demand in China for luxury wines, and China doesn’t have the capability either viticulturally or from a vinification point of view to make icon or grade A wines, so they have to import them.

“That’s our modus operandi – Seppeltsfield sells luxury bulk wine to the world. We’ve seen immediate demand and strong demand.”

Randall hosted a VIP event at his Seppeltsfield winery in June, which included China’s Premier Li Qiang, China’s Minister for Trade Wang Wentao, chairman of COFCO Corporation – a large state-owned agriculture and food business – Jun Lyu and more.

The Seppeltsfield chair said that at the event Premier Qiang said “wine is the business card of Australia”.

“I love that, isn’t that magnificent?” said Randall.

L-R: Taylors Wines managing director Mitchell Taylor, Treasury Wine Estates CEO Tim Ford, Chinese Premier Li Qiang, Senator Don Farrell, The Randall Wine Group executive chairman and proprietor Warren Randall. Photo: Supplied.

The Randall Wine Group’s holdings in the Barossa now exceed 4000 acres, and the company produces nearly 10 million bottles of luxury wine from the region every year.

Beyond Seppeltsfield, the Randall Wine Group owns a portfolio of luxury brands including Penny’s Hill and Gemtree Organic Wines.

Randall said there were two more vineyards in the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale that he’s got his eyes on, noting now was a good time for consolidation.

“Normally I have bought at the bottom of the cycle,” he said.

“Confucius says: ‘man makes money when he buys, not sells’.”

Local News Matters
Copyright © 2024 InDaily.
All rights reserved.