Accolade buys Lion Australia wine interests
The wineries and brands owned by Lion Australia, including Petaluma (tastings), Croser, Stonier (tastings), St Hallett (tastings), Knappstein (tastings) and Tatachilla (tastings) have been bought by Accolade Wines, owner of the Hardys (tastings), Arras (tastings), Leasingham (tastings), Bay of Fires (tastings), Grant Burge (tastings) and various other brands. The purchase includes Lion’s distribution arm, Fine Wine Partners, which wholesales its own brands as well as Henschke (tastings), Bollinger (tastings) and others.
The overseas wineries of Lion are not included in the buy.
The word among informed people in the industry is that Accolade, which is wholly owned by a private equity company, Champ Equity, is keen to offload all of its wine interests as soon as possible, most likely early in 2017. This is likely to involve a public float. It is also possible that some of the wine interests will be split up and offered separately.
The Lion assets purchased by Accolade include the four wineries (Petaluma’s new Adelaide Hills winery at Woodside, Stonier on the Mornington Peninsula, St Hallett in the Barossa Valley and Knappstein at Clare), all plant and equipment, land and vineyards, inventory and the on-and-off-premise distribution network.
The sale price is confidential. However, those who know tell me the price was about $100 million: significantly less than the individual assets were worth separately.
It’s fair to say there is a lot of pessimism in the Australian fine wine community about all of this. Corporate ownership of wine interests does not have a happy record in this country. Brands tends to be trashed and the value built up by hard work over long periods of time is often squandered. However, any sale must also present opportunities for benevolent owners to become involved in wine, so perhaps we should remain positive.