New winery owners plan $11m growth

Treasury Wine Estate has bought Rapaura Vintners from Babich Winery and is planning an $11 million expansion.

The international wine company is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange and owns vineyards and wineries around the world, including Matua Valley in Marlborough.

It already had a 50 per cent share of Rapaura Vintners and announced yesterday it had bought the remaining shares.

Rapaura Vintners, in Jacksons Rd near Blenheim, is an integrated wine business providing packaging, bottling, laboratory and warehousing services, as well as producing Matua Valley and Babich wines.

Treasury Wine Estate New Zealand wine production and brands director Sam Glaetzer said the company planned to expand the winery and increase capacity from 15,000 tonnes to 25,000 tonnes in time for the 2013 vintage.

Marlborough District Council property files show the value of the proposed work is $11 million.

Mr Glaetzer said the winery will be renamed Matua Marlborough and will employ more staff to fulfill the increased volume, he said. "This investment strengthens our foothold in Marlborough . . . and signals the confidence we have in our brands."

The expansion underpinned the strong sales growth of Marlborough wines overseas during the past three years. The company had been supplementing their products with bulk wine during the past 18 months to meet demand, he said.

The company has been working with Rapaura Vintners' management to start the consent process in the hope of completing the expansion for the 2013 vintage.

Babich Wines will make their wine at the Jacksons Rd winery next year, and future vintages will be up for negotiation. They will continue to provide packaging and warehousing services to existing Marlborough customers indefinitely, Mr Glaetzer said.

Treasury Wine Estate chief supply officer Stuart McNab said he was pleased to have secured a key asset for the business.

"This is a first class facility with a team of experienced staff and a proven track record for producing high quality wines."

Treasury Wine Estates is an international wine company with vineyards and wineries in New Zealand, Australia the United States and Europe.

The Marlborough Express