Waimea Estate sale brings growth plans

Awatere River Wine Company founder and winemaker Louis Vavasour.

Awatere River Wine Company founder and winemaker Louis Vavasour.

One of Nelson's best-known wine producers has been sold.

After 24 years of building their business from the ground up, Nelson's Bolitho family has sold Waimea Family Estate Wines to New Zealand financial services company Booster.

The company, which is a KiwiSaver fund provider, has placed it in partnership with the Awatere River Wine Company from Marlborough.

Waimea Estates general manager Ben Bolitho.
Helen Murdoch

Waimea Estates general manager Ben Bolitho.

Awatere River Wine Company was established in 2007 by Louis Vavasour, of the original Vavasour family who pioneered viticulture and wine-making in the Awatere Valley in 1987. 

Waimea Family Estate Wines was established in 1993 when Trevor and Robyn Bolitho planted the first of over 140ha of vineyards on Nelson's Waimea plains. 

Waimea Estates general manager Ben Bolitho, who is staying on with the company along with other current staff, has welcomed the biggest change in the company's history as a positive step forward.

As well as enabling his parents to fully embrace retirement, Bolitho said the investment partnership allowed the business to grow to its full potential.

"As a family we were sort of constrained by cashflow, so this investment with a partner that has access to capital to grow the business to its potential is incredible and incredible for the Nelson region as well," he said.

"They chose Nelson above anyone else and I think the whole region needs to be proud of that – Nelson is an up and coming wine region and this is the first sign of the level of investment that's going to come in the future." 

Under the terms of the investment, the Vavasour family retain principle ownership of Awatere River Wine Company with KiwiSaver provider Booster's Tahi Limited Partnership taking a significant minority stake. 

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Booster will own 100 per cent of Waimea Estates with Louis Vavasour the CEO of the venture. 

Waimea Estates wine brands will become part of ARWC's portfolio, with over 10 varietals coming together across six premium brands from two NZ regions.

According to a press release announcing the investment, the new partnership aimed to "push boundaries to optimise quality, secure supply from key vineyards, and create exciting new wines to meet a broader spread of evolving consumer preferences."

The investment also included the purchase of additional vineyards in Marlborough and Nelson which will contribute to future company growth and return for investors.

The official start date for the new partnership was July 31.

Vavasour said the venture, Booster's first foray into viticulture, came about as he was seeking a capital injection. He came into contact with the company, which was looking for long-term investment opportunities with straight-talking, visionary younger people at the helm.

"This is an exciting milestone for all the assets and the people involved and I look forward to working with an expanded team of dynamic people who are passionate about what they do, to grow all aspects of the business."

Vavasour said the Bolitho family had "driven a well-established, successful operation that has a number of synergies" with his own company.

Booster is an established New Zealand financial services company. Founded in 1998 as Grosvenor Financial Services, it began by creating an investment platform for independent financial advisers. 

Booster is a government-appointed KiwiSaver provider that manages around $2 billion in funds.



 - Stuff


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