Chinese in Buying Mode

The elite in China have wealth that makes Gina Rinehart’s billions look like pocket money. No wonder they are interested in buying into Australia’s wine industry. It’s a buyer’s market for wineries and vineyards; there are lots of properties for sale and prices are cheap. Ferngrove, in Western Australia’s Frankland region, went into Chinese hands not long ago.

A Chinese-owned company, Winston Wine, has just bought Barossa Valley winery Ross Estate. Prior to this, Winston acquired two wine properties in the Hunter Valley: Capercaillie and Wynwood Estate (formerly Golden Grape Estate). The 45-hectare Ross Estate property, at Lyndoch, was developed by Darius and Pauline Ross during the 1990s. Darius Ross, aged 83 and looking to retire, reluctantly put his property up for sale, at the same time expressing contentment that his brand would preserve its integrity under the new owner. Winemaker Alex Peel has announced he’s staying. Winston Wine says it will increase the Ross Estate brand’s exposure both nationally and internationally. General manager Desly Harris says Winston is looking for more premium vineyards throughout Australia. “Winston Wine is a very successful exporting company to China, where they own a franchise for bottle shops,” she says. Meanwhile, the rumour mill is active in southern Victoria, where Chinese investors are negotiating to buy two important winegrowing properties. Watch this space.

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