Babich buys Tetley Brook

HAMISH CARDWELL
Last updated 10:08 29/11/2012

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Babich Wines has bought the 49-hectare Tetley Brook Vineyard near Seddon for a "good" price from receivers PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the company confirmed yesterday.

The deal was finalised this month, with the Auckland-based wine company paying $4,470,000 for property valued at $3.8m.

Bayleys Marlborough viticulture sales specialist John Hoare said Tetley Brook Vineyard was originally listed for mortgagee sale by Rabobank in February but failed to sell.

It was relisted in June by the receivers. The property was jointly owned by Nelson Collective Ltd and Westport Collective Ltd.

Babich general manager Dave Babich said they paid a "good" price for the sauvignon blanc-producing property, which included all fruit, machinery and onsite infrastructure.

The company bought the vineyard partly to shore up 2013 grape supply, but also to have the freedom to control crop yield to ensure quality, he said.

"At certain times in the cycle, it is better to own vineyards than it is to buy grapes. Our view is, for there to be a viable industry, everyone in the chain needs to make money. Grape growers can't sell grapes at cost and maintain a viable industry."

It was all about getting the right mix of vineyard ownership and contract purchasing.

Tetley Brook Vineyard was planted in sauvignon blanc but the company was looking to convert seven hectares of the hilly country to pinot noir in a couple of years, Mr Babich said.

"We need to see what the wind and frost is like on the site. In two years, we will understand the property enough to flip it over."

The vineyard needed some love and attention so they would lower the yield to 400 tonnes but hoped to get it up to 500 by 2015, he said.

Tetley Brook Vineyard has a four-year average production of 427 tonnes of fruit.

The company would continue to process its harvest at the Rapaura Vintners processing plant, which it sold its half-share in at the beginning of the month, while its 6000-tonne capacity winery in the Cloudy Bay Business Park was being built.

The company may need to take on more staff, including finding a manager to run Tetley Brook Vineyard, Mr Babich said.

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- Marlborough

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