Selling up

The Marlborough region is home to roughly 140 vineyards of 20-50 ha, mainly run by couples aged 50-70, and hundreds of smaller vineyards run by retired couples. (Photo: Oyster Bay Wines)

It’s an increasingly familiar scenario. A couple approaching retirement make a “lifestyle choice” and invest their savings in a vineyard and/or winery. When it’s time to retire from the family business the children are reluctant to take over. It’s time to trade down or sell up.

When it’s time to take a step back or quit altogether, owners have quite a number of different alternatives apart from putting the business on the market.

“The Marlborough region is home to roughly 140 vineyards of 20-50 ha, mainly run by couples aged 50-70, and hundreds of smaller vineyards run by retired couples. Marlborough also has the oldest population in NZ, the fastest ageing population in NZ and the unfortunate distinction of being the first region in NZ where there will be a decline in the absolute number of people in the working age population.”

That’s an extract from an invitation to Marlborough grape growers and winemakers to join a workshop on exit planning run by New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE) in collaboration with Wine Marlborough.

When it’s time to take a step back or quit altogether, owners have quite a number of different alternatives apart from putting the business on the market, according to John Buchanan, owner of mid-sized Marlborough winery Mount Riley Wines. A popular option is to lease the business, usually for around 7% of QV. That gives the leasee access to a vineyard or winery without having to invest capital while the leasor retains ownership and receives a regular income.

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