Winery purchase boost for Tohu

22:30, Dec 04 2012

The purchase of a winery in the Awatere Valley near Blenheim completes Tohu brand's Marlborough story, says Kono Beverages chief executive Mike Brown.

Kono's parent company, Nelson-based Wakatu Incorporation, bought the 1200-tonne capacity winery from Yealands Estate Wines last week. Kono Beverages' Marlborough wine label is Tohu.

Mr Brown said the six-year-old winery's location and size ticked all the boxes for Tohu, which anticipates strong growth after its wine sales grew by 25 per cent in the last year.

"It was a great opportunity for us to have a winery there because the Tohu brand is all about the Awatere Valley," he said.

"It was a compelling deal for us - the chance to pick up a modern and well-designed winery in a straightforward deal - and it suited Yealands, too."

The winery was built for Ager Sectus Wine Estates Ltd in 2006.


The private company used to own the Crossings wine label in the Awatere Valley and Crossroads in Hawke's Bay before merging with Yealands Estate Wines last year. Kono Beverages is the food and beverage arm of Wakatu Inc which owns more than 100ha of vineyards in the Awatere and Waihopai Valleys in Marlborough and a 33ha vineyard in Nelson.

Last year the company sold 125,000 cases of Tohu, its Marlborough wine label, Mr Brown said.

The 1200-tonne capacity winery had resource consent to process 6000 tonnes of grapes, which gives the company room to grow.

While it suited the company to use a contract winery in the past, they reached a "critical tipping point" where it was more viable to have their own winery.

"It really makes sense for us to undertake our own winemaking both strategically and financially," Mr Brown said.

They would use their new winery for the 2014 vintage, and continue to use a contract winery for the excess fruit, he said.

The company would begin to increase tank volume after vintage next year, and the rate of expansion would depend on the uptake of the winery by other Awatere Valley wine companies. The grape receival area could handle up to 2500 tonnes of grapes and would not need to be expanded until their production doubled.

The Marlborough Express